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NJ bishops laud Benedict’s devotion to church

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s Catholic leaders are praising Pope Benedict XVI for helping the world understand Catholicism.

The Most Rev. David O’Connell, who is the Bishop of Trenton, says the news of the surprise resignation has brought him sadness. But O’Connell says it shows the pope’s devotion to the church, in that he’s willing to pass the reins of power to someone younger and more physically able.

The Most Rev. John J. Myers, the archbishop of Newark, calls Pope Benedict a “sensitive pastor, a brilliant scholar and teacher.”

The 85-year-old Benedict announced Monday he will resign this month. He will be the first pontiff since the 1400s to step down.

Benedict’s announcement stunned many of his closest associates. It sets the stage for a conclave next month to elect a new leader.