NAPLES — Francis Rooney, former ambassador to the Holy See, said he was somewhat surprised to hear the news this morning that Pope Benedict XVI planned to resign at the end of the month.
However, Rooney said, the signs were there that the pope was ailing.
Rooney said when he was first appointed he had a 40-minute private meeting with Pope Benedict.
“When we got over there, he had just begun his papacy,” Rooney said. “He was quite robust. He had a lot of energy and he had a full schedule.”
But Rooney said since he returned back to the states, he noticed the pope has scaled back his schedule and appears to have slowed down.
“What I've noticed … is his age is beginning to show,” Rooney said of the 85-year-old pontiff.
Rooney said the pope's decision to step down shows his humility and desire to “put people above himself.”