LOS ANGELES – Cardinal Roger Mahony, who will travel to Rome to help select a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, reacted today to news that the pope would resign Feb. 28 due to his health.

“Surely one of his great legacies will be a continuing emphasis on the need for all Catholics to exercise their role as evangelizers in the world. His focus upon the new evangelization will continue to enliven all disciples of Jesus,” Mahony stated.

As a member of the College of Cardinals, Mahony recalled the April 2005 conclave in which the 85-year-old German-born pope was elected.

“I recall so clearly his words when he told the cardinals that he was choosing the name Benedict because of his fondness for the prayerfulness and the Rule of St. Benedict, and also because Pope Benedict XV (1914-1920) served during a time of turmoil and wars across the world,” Mahony stated.

The pope, who cited failing strength of mind and body, would become the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to resign from the lifelong appointment in about 600 years. He appointed 67 of the 118 cardinals who will pick a successor, who needs two-thirds approval to be elected pope.

Mahony said he looked forward to thanking the pope in person “and to participate in the conclave to elect his successor.”

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