LIKE one billion other Catholics, Orange priest Father Paul Devitt says he was shocked to learn Pope Benedict XVI would step down from the top job at the end of this month.
Pope Benedict, who has been the leader of the Catholic Church for nearly eight years, is the first Pope to resign in 600 years.
“It was a surprise to everyone, even his own staff were caught off guard,” Father Devitt said.
Father Devitt said while he initially wasn’t a supporter of the Pope, fearing he would be “too conservative,” his admiration grew when he realised he was much more open-minded than people had expected.
According to Father Devitt the 85-year-old Pope achieved many good things during his tenure including working as an advocate for inter-religious dialogue.
“He was also a theologian and an intellectual,” Father Devitt said.
Father Devitt said while it was still undecided who would become the next Pope when Pope Benedict steps down on February 28, there was little chance Cardinal George Pell would be a contender because he was Australian.
“He’s got not a chance in the world ... less than a million to one,” Father Devitt said.
“Australia’s a little player in a big game.”