Washington: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday offered appreciation and prayers to Pope Benedict XVI, who announced that he would resign on February 28, the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years.
"Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI," Obama said in a statement on the decision of the top Catholic leader to resign.
"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," he said.
"The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s successor," Obama said.
Citing deteriorating health, Pope Benedict XVI announced his decision to resign.