The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is a shock but unsurprising considering his advanced age, says Kamloops Bishop David Monroe.
The 85-year-old pope dropped the bombshell in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals on Monday, surprising even his closest collaborators even though he had made clear previously that he would step down if he became too old or infirm to carry on.
Monroe found out about the resignation like everyone else Monday - on the news.
"It didn't surprise me in the sense of 'Why would he do such a thing?'" said Monroe.
"Most people never know the amount (of work) that he does, the talks he has to prepare and give, the number of people he has to be thinking of, and he writes his books on the side. For a person in any age 75 or older, he does an awful lot. I wouldn't say 'Oh gosh he should keep up.' If he feels that this is time, OK."
The resignation sent shockwaves primarily because it hasn't been done since 1415 when Pope Gregory XII stepped down due to a Vatican leadership crisis.
If papal resignation occurred every 50 or 100 years, it wouldn't be such a shock, said Monroe.
Pope Benedict's style was seen as a return to a more conservative church after the reign of Pope John Paul II.
But he relented on some issues - most notably softening on the Catholic stance on contraception in 2010 by saying condoms could be used in exceptional circumstances to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
Pundits have wondered aloud whether a new pope would work to modernize the religious order. But Monroe doesn't think a change in leadership would change church fundamentals.
"Truth never changes so what does 'modernize' mean?" he said.
"If we're saying does the church now stop disapproving of sexual practices that are incorrect? The things that are the life of the church are faith and morals in themselves. Like the church will say this pope's gone now we approve abortions? No."
Naming the successor to Pope Benedict XVI is now top of mind, but Monroe declined to throw in a guess.
"Often people are surprised at the time of the election of a pope (who) wasn't even mentioned before," he said. "I'll let the Holy Spirit direct that part of it. I'll just pray that the will of God is being done."
© Kamloops Daily News