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Former Wisconsin Catholic leaders shocked by pope's resignation


LA CROSSE, WI (WTAQ) - Catholics were shocked when they woke up Monday morning, and learned that Benedict XVI became the first pope in almost 600 years to announce his resignation.

Former Milwaukee Archbishop Tim Dolan was startled as well – and he said on NBC’s “Today” show that he’s somber about the move. Dolan said it was a sign of Benedict’s humility.

Dolan was the Catholic leader in southeast Wisconsin for 7 years before he became the Archbishop of New York in 2009. He was elevated to cardinal almost a year ago.

According to the AP, both Dolan and former La Crosse Catholic Bishop Raymond Burke are being mentioned as possible successors – but the fact that they’re from a super power like the U.S. might be held against them.

Burke is now the Vatican’s top judge. Dolan, who’s in his early 60’s, will help choose the new pontiff as a cardinal. He joked about the guidance he’ll seek in that role. Dolan said, “I’m still unpacking the red socks from a year ago when I was made a cardinal.”

There are 118 cardinals who are younger than 80 – and thus, like Dolan, are eligible to vote.

Benedict, who’s 85, will resign on February 28th after seven years as pope. A new pontiff is expected to be named in March.

Popes generally die in office. But in today’s modern society, Benedict said he no longer has the mind or body to fulfill his ministry.