The Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton Kieran Conry has paid tribute to Pope Benedict XVI after the pontiff announced his resignation.
Pope Benedict, 85, is the first pope since 1415 to have resigned.
He said that he will step down on Thursday 28 February because he no longer has the strength to fulfil his duties.
The news agency Reuters said that he had noticed that his strength had deteriorated over recent months “to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me”.
He said: “For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, successor of Saint Peter.”
He was born Joseph Ratzinger in the Bavarian village of Marktl in Germany in 1927. He succeeded Pope John Paul II eight years ago.
Bishop Conry was disbelieving when he first heard the news through the BBC but praised the work and character of Pope Benedict.