Las Vegas CBS KXNT- The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas is asking people to pray for Pope Benedict as he steps aside, and for the cardinals who will select the next pope.

Bishop Joseph Pepe said on Monday that he was surprised by the timing of Pope Benedict’s announcement, but not by the resignation itself.

“He understands the signficance of the papal ministry in the sense that you have to be very active, and be very, very much involved on an every day plane,” Pepe said. “Certainly the past couple of months and maybe this year, you’ve seen the slowing down.”

Bishop Pepe said he became aware of the pope’s waning energy during a visit to the Vatican last spring, when there were suggestions in advance that a meeting with a group of bishops might be cut short. The pope was feeling good that day, and met with the visitors for nearly an hour, Pepe said.

Pepe has admiration and gratitude for the Pope’s teachings, he said, and for the pontiff’s quiet style, in contrast to the more charismatic John-Paul II. He believes this pope has blazed a trail, by declining to stay in place for life when he feels strained by the pace.

“I’m sure this was a difficult decision for him, and he needs our prayers at this time,” the bishop said.


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