Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley is praising Pope Benedict XVI for what he calls his "courage and his leadership" in comments after the pope's surprise decision to resign.

In a statement Monday, O'Malley recalled that he was present in Washington, D.C., in 2008 when Benedict met with several Boston-area victims of the clergy sex abuse crisis. He said that Benedict's determination to "heal the wounds" of everyone affected by the crisis was evident, and was his commitment to ensure the church keeps its children safe.

O'Malley also said Benedict's devotion to presenting the faith clearly and work inspiring the next generation of Catholics are key parts of his legacy.

Benedict announced Monday that he would resign at month's end, becoming the first pontiff to step down in 600 years.