The archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says he is surprised and saddened by Pope Benedict's resignation.
Archbishop John Nienstedt (NYNE'-sted) says like Catholics around the world, he was surprised to learn the 85-year-old pope plans to resign for health reasons at the end of the month.
Nienstedt says in a statement Monday he is also saddened by the thought of losing Benedict's "strong leadership for the church."
Nienstedt was among bishops who met with Benedict last March. The archbishop says the pope's pastoral reflections about each of the bishops' dioceses — and the Twin Cities archdiocese in particular — "were insightful as well as inspirational."
Benedict becomes the first pontiff to step down in 600 years.