(WJET/WXFB/YourErie.com)– Diocese of Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico issued a statement on the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

In the statement Bishop Persico called the late pope “a true disciple of God who used the many gifts he had to serve the Catholic Church with great generosity.”

Bishop Persico also expressed his gratitude, saying how thankful he is for Pope Benedict appointing him as the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Erie, his many writings and especially the example he set.

Bishop Persico also asked for clergy within the Diocese to pray and say a mass for Pope Benedict. He also encouraged others to offer their prayers for Pope Benedict, the Church and Pope Francis.