ARCHBISHOP of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has told how it was "no surprise" that Pope Benedict announced his resignation this morning.
Speaking from the Archbishop's palace in Drumcondra today, he said the pontiff's health had been visibly failing over recent months, and that he had taken a decision to resign because it was in the best interests of the church.
The pope was always interested in Ireland, and had done more than any other to change how the Vatican handled controversy, particularly the child sex abuse scandals.
"I think this was a decision where very few in the room this morning knew about it'" he said.
"It's been very clear over the last few months that his physical health was declining.
"It's obviously well thought out, that he will resign on that day and retire. He will live in a closed convent in anonymity.
"He was not a man for a social life, he was much happier writing and preaching. He will be remembered for his theology.
"I think in general there's a stereotype of the pope in Ireland. He was very concerned about the church in Ireland, and he showed this."
Asked if he knew who the next pope would be, he said it was "too early to tell".
His legacy would be his writings and how the Vatican dealt with child sex abuse.
"When he became pope the procedures in the Vatican changed substantially and the procedures changed substantially.
"You could see this very clearly. I remember him saying to me, 'this should never have happened in the church of Jesus Christ' and that was a real scandal.
"He spoke about the filth in the life of the church. That's not the language of diplomacy but the life of someone who is free."