Tributes to Pope Benedict XVI's seven-year reign at the Holy See poured in from Catholic politicians Monday.
Pictured: Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan praised the pope's decision to step down. | AP Photos
"The prayers and gratitude of American Catholics are with Pope Benedict XVI today," House Speaker John Boehner, who attended a Catholic high school as a teenager, said in a statement. "The Holy Father's decision displays extraordinary humility and love for the Church, two things that have been the hallmarks of his service. ... People of all nations have been blessed by the sacrifices he has made to sow the seeds of hope, justice, and compassion throughout the world in the name of Our Lord and Savior."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sounded a similar note.
"Today Pope Benedict XVI displayed the qualities of an excellent leader and a true man of God by putting the interests of the Vatican and the Catholic Church over his own papacy," Rubio said in a statement. "Since becoming Pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has served the Church honorably, particularly through his work promoting charity across the globe. I wish him well in the future and, as a Catholic, I thank him for his service to God and the Church. I also look with optimism toward the future of the Catholic Church as it prepares to welcome a new leader and as it continues to spread God's message of faith, hope and love to all the corners of the world."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi praised Benedict's focus on "justice."
"Pope Benedict XVI has been a great spiritual leader," she said in a statement. "Before His Holiness' triumphant visit to the United States, he stated that the 'world has greater need of hope than ever: hope for peace, for justice, and for freedom.' That was his message to America; that has been his message to the world. As a public official, I will be forever grateful to Pope Benedict for his powerful Encyclical, 'God Is Love,' where he wrote of the urgency for public servants and government to promote justice. Although Pope Benedict XVI is stepping aside, the world will continue to be inspired by His Holiness' spirituality, leadership, and vision for the future."
Benedict XVI abdicated the papacy Monday due to "advanced age," he said in a statement. He's the first pope to leave the throne. The selection of a new pope will begin in March, and one lawmaker has already made his pick.
"It is too early to determine the full extent of Pope Benedict's legacy; however, New Yorkers will never forget the gift he gave us with the elevation of Cardinal Dolan," Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) said. "Cardinal Dolan has lifted the spirits of Catholics and non-Catholics throughout New York and the world, and renewed the faith of many. If it were up to me to pick the next pope, Cardinal Dolan would have my vote!"
SOURCE: KEVIN ROBILLARD