Anders Arborelius, the bishop of Stockholm’s Catholic diocese, said the resignation would likely make it more common for future popes to step down when they feel old and frail. ‘‘It will probably be a new trend,’’ he said.
Arborelius also said the new pope would probably not be a European.
‘‘A lot suggests that it will be someone from another continent,’’ he said. ‘‘The Church’s center of gravity has moved from the West to the southern hemisphere.’’
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of South Africa told The Associated Press ‘‘I think we would have a better chance of getting someone outside of the northern hemisphere this time, because there are some really promising cardinals from other parts of the world.
‘‘It’s a question of where is the kind of (and) the quality of leadership evident at the moment: Coming from a growing background rather than a holding or a maintenance background?’’
French President Francois Hollande said Benedict’s decision ‘‘stirs the greatest respect’’ and praised the pope ‘‘for all the efforts he led in support of peace.’’
‘‘It’s a courageous and exceptional decision,’’ he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron told lawmakers in Parliament that Benedict ‘‘has worked tirelessly to strengthen Britain’s relations with the Holy See and his visit to Britain in 2010 is remembered with great respect and affection.’’