Jansing and Co | February 11, 2013
>>> good morning. it has not happened in more than 700 years, this morning pope benedict xiv announced he will resign, saying he doesn't have the strength to go on. it shocked even new york's cardinal timothy dolan .
>> i'm as startled as the roast of you, except for prayer, i don't know what else to do. i'll await instructions like everyone else.
>> the 85 years old leader will step aside february 28th . the vatican says they hope to elect a new pope by easters. the pope made the announcement in latin, saying, quote, after having repeatedly examined my conscience before god, i have come to a certainly that my strengths are not -- the pope's declining health has been an issue. he goes to and from the altar on a moving platform, so he doesn't have to walk down the long aisle. sometimes he using a cane. his brothers says the doctors told hi not to take any more transatlantic trips.
>>> he is also an nbc vattian analyst. george , good to see you. you and i are in somewhat frequent contact, as you send out notes about what's going on, but did anybody really see this coming? i nope he's talked about the possibility of retirement, but now?
>> i was going to say, chris, it's an unexpected pleasure to see you today. this is a surprise to timing, not to fact. the pope has indicated on several previous indications if he ever came to the decision in prayer and conscience he could not give the service the church deserved, he would leave, not stand on his ego or stand on ceremony. he would clear the path for a new pope. the timing is a bit surprising, but when it happens in 719 years, it's always going to be surprising.
>> you know what i thought, george , i thought he must -- do you think he's slowing down or he's really not well?
>> i saw the pope in december shortly after he made six new cardinals. i thought he looked weaker than when i saw him in june. he gave a beautiful sermon at christmas midnight mass , but he looked weaker then to me too. he has a long-standing heart condition. he has arthritis problems in both legs. i think the point to be underscored here is that this was a decision taken in conscience after great prayer. this is not someone just throwing in the towel or throwing up his hands. this is someone saying the office of peter needs vigorous leadership, and because i can't provide that, i'm going to create the possibility for a presumably younger, more vigorous man to take my place.
>> he wrote a book -- well, actually book is called " light of the world " it was a question and answer. one of the questions was whether or not he would retire. he answers it several different times. the first time when he was asked, did he think of resigning, he said when the dangers is great, one must not run away. for that reason -- precisely at a time like this one, stand fast and endure a difficult situation. that is my view. one can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply did not go on. american catholics and americans in general tend to look at the catholic church through that american lens and look at the fact that the former card nat from los angeles was essentially relieved of any public duties because of the priest sex scandal . that is an ongoing concern for the church. the number of priest says an ongoing concern. so i guess my question is what kind of church is pope benedict leaving, and in particular as it relates to the american catholic .
>> i think the pope is leaving behind a church in the united states that is in the strongest shape of any developed world . far stronger than western europe , stronger than latin america or canada. another quarter of a million will enter the catholic church this easter. seminaries in chicago, in maryland, at the north american college in rome are more full than they have been in 40 years, so there are real signs of vitality in the church in the united states . i think what we need to recognize, chris, is that this is a hinge moment in history. benedict xvi will be the last pope who attended the second vatican council , a significant theological adviser there. the next pope, whoever he is, will not have attended the second vatican council . so one era in the history of the catholic church and new era, which i describe in a book called evangelical catholicism , is about to open up.
>>> people will be talking about it a lot in the coming hours and days, and the possibility of an american pope. the name that comes up, of course, is cardinal dolan here in new york. he is someone who has only been cardinal for less than a year. that would obviously argue against it. when i was talking to a mutual friend, his analysis was maybe the best chance for an american pope that we have ever seen, and yet the canses of that are minuscule. what's your assessment?
>> i wouldn't say minuscule, but i would say it's a long shot. i think we might have ra north american pope. i think cardinal willette from canada will get a serious look. i wouldn't be prepared to do any odds-making right now. i think it's clear the cardinals will want a younger man, to give a good 10 to 15 years of service.
>> i think a lot of people wondered whether or not this pope would have been in the seat as long as he has been. thank you so much. it is good to see you, and i'm sure we'll by talking against in the coming days, george .
>> i suspect i'll see you in rome.
>> when are you going?
>> soon, i imagine.
>> we'll see you there then.