|To the editor:
Like many, I was tremendously surprised by the Holy Father's announcement of his resignation today [Feb. 11, 2013]. I am certain that he arrived at this important decision following much prayer and deliberation. One cannot help but be struck by his great humility. Pope Benedict is only a few months younger than my own father, and I have always marveled at how he could serve the Church so well bearing such enormous responsibilities along with the limits of age. With my respect and admiration of his decision, I must admit a personal sadness too. I will miss Pope Benedict. I took considerable strength and encouragement in knowing he was in the Chair of St. Peter. He possesses the immense qualities of a good shepherd: charity, gentleness, a keen intellect shaped by truth, courageous fidelity, a love for prayer, and a joy-filled love of God and his Church.
He appointed me bishop and it was only two weeks or so after my consecration that I was privileged to address him in person when he visited Washington D.C. in April 2008.
He has inspired me, along with many others, and helped me to be a better disciple of the Lord Jesus. The Church has been blessed in her recent history with great popes. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will now guide her in the process of selecting the next successor of St. Peter.
Most Reverend James V. Johnston Jr., Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau