Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI:
"Laureen and I were shocked early this morning to learn that declining health had prompted His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to renounce his office.
"His Holiness has dedicated his life to serving God and his faith. He has been a faithful steward, and will be missed.
"A renowned scholar and theologian, Pope Benedict will always have a special place in the hearts of Canadians. It was during his papacy that two of our own, Saint Brother André Bessette and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha were canonized and Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto was elevated to the College of Cardinals.
"In 2009 my family and I were honoured to have an audience with this deeply spiritual man and to hear his words of faith, hope and charity. Laureen and I join all Canadians in wishing Pope Benedict well in the future."