Pope Benedict XVI with Bishop Michael Smith on January 30 this year.
Bishop Michael Smith met Pope Benedict XVI 12 days ago during a visit to Rome.
The Bishop says that "the Pope was in very good spirits. Although he has lost weight in recent times, he still spoke clearly in eight languages at the Audience I attended".
Commenting on the Pope's life and ministry, Bishop Smith said: "When he was elected Benedict XV1 introduced himself to the large crowd in St Peter's Square as a 'humble servant of the Gospel'. He is a gentle yet deeply spiritual person, blessed with great intellectual gifts.
"He has been a true teacher of the faith all his life, but especially during his years as pope. He has left us a veritable library of teaching that not only proclaimed and explained the faith but also confronted the many issues facing secular society in this era.
"His was a prophetic voice that will resonate both in the Church and in society for decades to come. He has decided, after much prayer and reflection, to hand the task on to another while he enters into an enclosed monastery to serve the Church, as he said in his final statement in a life dedicated to prayer.
"I encourage people to accompany Pope Benedict XVI in his prayer for the Church."