Prime Minister John Key says Pope Benedict's resignation was a "brave call" on behalf of the ailing pontiff.
Key said he was genuinely surprised by the move, the first papal resignation for 600 years.
"The 1.2 billion Catholics around the world will be quite shocked," he said this morning speaking on TV3's Firstline.
"This is a position where people normally carry on for all of their natural life once they have been appointed pope."
He could only assume the pressure on the pope's health did not allow him to discharge his responsibilities at the level he would want.
"So quite a brave call from his perspective," Key said.
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