ERIE, Pa. (WKBN) – Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, Bishop of the Diocese of Erie, issued a statement Saturday following the announcement that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died.

The bishop said that Pope Benedict was a “truce disciple of Christ who used the many gifts he had to serve the Catholic Church.”

Bishop Persico went on to say that Pope Benedict had not expected to be elected to the papacy and had hoped to live out his retirement in “prayer and scholarly pursuit,” but accepted the mission that was given to him.

“I feel a closeness to Pope Benedict since he is the one who appointed me as the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Erie. I am grateful for the appointment as well as the many writings he shared during his lifetime, including from his perspective as pope,” Bishop Persico said.

The Church is asking the faithful to offer prayers for the emeritus pope and for Pope Francis and for the “Church at this moment.”