Shock, admiration on Pope’s resignation-A A +A
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
POPE Benedict XVI will be remembered for giving the Philippines its second saint and a new member of the College of Cardinals, said Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
With the news of the Pope’s resignation, priests and bishops in the Archdiocese of Cebu had mixed reactions. Some were shocked, while others admired the Pope’s decision, which was announced during a consistory, or meeting, with cardinals in Rome, Italy last Monday.
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” the Pope said in his letter.
In the same letter, the Pope, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in Bavaria, Germany, renounced the ministry as bishop of Rome and the papacy effective on Feb. 28 at 8 p.m., or around midnight Cebu time. Soon after a conclave, or an election of a new pope, will be convened.
“I receive with grave sadness the news that Pope Benedict XVI is renouncing his office as bishop of Rome and successor of Peter. Like everyone else I am very much surprised,” said Vidal in a statement.
The 82-year-old prelate called on the faithful to pray for the new “shepherd” for Catholics around the world.
“I admire the Holy Father’s strength and sincerity in saying ‘I can’t serve anymore,’” Vidal told reporters yesterday during a press conference at his residence.
The decision to renounce the leadership of a billion Catholics is an admirable decision, “unlike some leaders who hold on to their post na kapit tuko (like a lizard),” he said.
He said he could only speculate on the reasons behind the Pope’s decision to leave the papacy.
“The sudden changes in the world, even if his mind is so clear and sharp, but his body could no longer (be as strong). Modernity is something which we were not expecting to happen during our day,” Vidal said.
He also said the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, which lasts almost eight years, will be remembered by Filipinos for his approval of the country’s second saint and the first Visayan martyr, San Pedro Calungsod.
“He also gave us an opportunity to have somebody at the conclave,” said Vidal, who was referring to 55-year-old Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
The two other Filipino cardinals, Vidal and Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, are retired and no longer belong to the electorate.
But Vidal said he still expects to be called to the Vatican for the conclave because with the vacancy of the papacy, the College of Cardinals will be handling the
management of affairs and the turnover of duties to the new pope, who may be elected by Easter time.
For Fr. Ramon Echica, a seminary professor, the Pope’s resignation only shows he is not attached to the trappings of power. “Power is meant for service but if any person with a God-given power believes that he or she can no longer serve to the best of one’s ability, then it is time to surrender the power,” Echica said.
Fr. Jan Limchua, who is based in the Vatican diplomatic school, said: “People are in shock, including those working in the Vatican. We all are a bit surprised by the Pope’s decision.”
“It’s quite gloomy here (in Rome, Italy). People everywhere are talking about this event. (It is a) sad day for the church but we respect the decision of the Holy Father,” he said.
“It was a selfless and prudent decision,” said Fr. Charles Jayme, who was the official custodian of the pilgrim image of San Pedro Calungsod.
He said that during San Pedro Calungsod’s canonization rites at the Vatican last October, he noticed that the Pope had difficulty walking and was stooped.
“I... admire Pope Benedict XVI, especially for his invitation to the faithful to explore the path of beauty in deepening one’s faith in God,” said Jesuit priest Fr. Jason Dy. “His resignation came as a surprise, but I believe that it was a fruit of his discernment and deep relationship with Christ. I commend him for his courage and humility to surrender everything to God’s greater plan for the church.”
Fr. Erwin Miro, of Villaba town in Leyte, also expressed his sadness at the news.
“It somehow breaks my heart because we love the Pope. But he will always have the wisdom why he does it. Always for the betterment of the church and the Petrine Ministry. He thinks always for the church of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Miro, Holy Child parish priest.
For Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district), he called on Catholics to respect the Pope’s decision to step down.
“A person understands his body better than anyone else, and knows better if he can keep up with the demands of his job or not. And he decided he cannot keep up with the demands. He is 86 years old, so let’s respect his judgment,” said Osmeña, a cancer survivor.
The congressman pointed out that Cardinal Ratzinger became pope because other cardinals and church leaders trusted his judgment.
“And his judgment now is maybe he should just let somebody assume his responsibilities, so we should all just respect him for that,” Osmeña said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 13, 2013.