Bishop Richard Malone meets with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in November 2011. Photo courtesy: Portland Catholic Diocese
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The head of Maine's Roman Catholic diocese is asking Catholics to join him in prayer and give thanks to Pope Benedict XVI for his lifetime of service to the church as he prepares to step down as the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church.
The 85-year-old pope announced Monday that he lacks the strength to fulfill his duties and will resign Feb. 28, becoming the first pontiff in 600 years to do so.
Bishop Richard Malone, who heads the Maine diocese, expressed gratitude to the pope for his life of scholarship and leadership.
Malone said Benedict seemed frail when he met with him in November 2011 at the Vatican. He said he cherishes the pectoral cross the pope gave him and other bishops who met with him.
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