DALLAS -- The leader of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas said he first thought news of the Pope Benedict XVI's resignation was a hoax.

Bishop Kevin Farrell learned about it in an early-morning phone call from a diocese spokesperson.

I woke up to startling news, he said Monday.

Bishop Farrell has met with the pope several times, one on one. The last time he saw Pope Benedict XVI was last May. Farrell said the pope was sharp and alert, but he could tell he was tired.

The world is completely different, he said. [The pope] just didn't have the strength to continue.

Bishop Farrell said Pope Benedict XVI constantly worked to unify Christians, but that the role of pope in this age is much more labor-intensive. In the age of the social media, the pope wrote blog posts, tweeted, and posted to Facebook daily, on top of his extensive traveling.

He's required to be everywhere at once, Farrell said.

While the news was shocking, the bishop said he can understand why the pope is resigning.

He felt that he had arrived at the moment when he needed to step down, and allow a more energetic, younger man, perhaps, to carry on the mission, Farrell said. I think it shows his great love for the church.

The way Bishop Farrell sees it, not much will change for the 1.2-million Catholics in nine North Texas counties.


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