Syracuse Bishop calls Pope's resignation 'an act of courage'

Bishop Cunningham talks with reporters Monday morning.

The Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse says Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered as "a great teacher."

Bishop Robert Cunningham told reporters Monday morning that Pope Benedict's resignation was "an act of courage on his part to recognize his physical abilities are declining."

"I saw him in October. He was moving slowly but there was no indication of any other difficulty other than aging...I will remember Benedict for his graciousness," said Cunningham.

The Bishop pointed out that over the years the Pope had appointed about half of the electors who will choose his successor, but he does not feel Benedict could hold influence over the selection. Bishop Cunningham said Benedict would not attend the conclave.

When asked if Benedict's retirement could lead to a major change in the church, Cunningham doubted it would happen. "The teaching of the church is timeless,"said Cunningham.

Cunningham could not say who would be the frontrunner to succeed Pope Benedict, but he doubts it would be Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

"I don't think there will be a Pope from the United States in our lifetime," says Cunningham.