Washington D.C., Feb 11, 2013 / 17:19 pm
Political leaders in the United States offered their prayers and respect upon learning of Pope Benedict XVI's decision to retire at the end of the month.
"On behalf of Americans everywhere," said U.S. President Barack Obama in a Feb. 11 statement, "Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI."
"Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years," the president said.
"The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world," he added, "and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's successor."