URGENT ¥¥¥ Anglican leader says understands pope's decision

Justin Welby, leader of the world's Anglicans, said Monday he understood "with a heavy heart" Pope Benedict XVI's decision to step down aged 85 due to his fading strength.

The new Archbishop of Canterbury said Pope Benedict had been a messenger of hope at a time when Christian faith was called into question.

"It was with a heavy heart but complete understanding that we learned this morning of Pope Benedict's declaration," said Welby, who formally became the spiritual leader of the Church of England last Monday.