Feb 11, 2013 6:29 PM by Lorraine Rivera
TUCSON - News of the pope's resignation came as a surprise to many including Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas, the bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Tucson.
Citing health concerns, the pontiff is the first Pope to step down in 600 years.
Kicanas said he most recently saw Pope Benedict in October, "he was very attentive. Very alert. He seemed much more energized. But obviously at 85 going on 86 the body kind of wears down."
Kicanas said he first met the pope when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. He said Pope Benedict is a shy, quiet man but is always poetic and thoughtful.
"I must say we have to give our Holy Father a lot of credit for deciding that he simply couldn't continue to carry on the work that had been entrusted to him. It's obviously a sign of his great love for the church when he realizes I have to pass the baton as it were," Kicanas said Monday morning.
The Vicar General, Reverend Al Schifano said he met the pontiff this past May, "the Pope turns to me and he hands me a little leather pouch and on the pouch is his coat of arms and in the pouch is a rosary and he turns to me, puts it in my hand, and he says, 'please pray for me' and I thought, wow, you pray for the Pope, I thought, how about you pray for me."
Schifano said meeting Pope Benedict was an experience of a lifetime, "to say that it was moving was just an understatement. It was a spiritual moment. To think about being able to hold, hold hand in hand, look in the eyes, exchange a few words, with the successor of peter was an amazing experience. One that i'll never forget."