Shock and sadness among Gwent faithful at Pope resignation
2:34pm Tuesday 12th February 2013 in News
CATHOLICS in Gwent reacted with surprise yesterday to the news that Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of the month.
The leader of one billion Catholics worldwide, Pope Benedict, 85, said his health and age were the reasons behind his decision to step down on February 28.
Member of Parliament for Torfaen Paul Murphy told the Argus: “I was surprised to hear of Pope Benedict’s resignation.
“He is a formidable theologian and leader and I am confident that he has come to this decision after much consideration.
“This must have been a very difficult decision for the Pope and is unprecedented in modern times. Pope Benedict XVI is a man of huge spirituality and deep faith, and all Christians have respected his stand on moral issues.
“I pray that the Church will find a worthy successor.”
The Most Reverend George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff whose diocese includes Gwent, said in a statement he shared the surprise of people all over the world and described the decision as one of “great courage and humility, made with characteristic clarity of mind and action”.
“I ask people of faith both within the Catholic Church and outside it to keep Pope Benedict in their prayers,” he said.
“Although physical frailty has caused him to make this decision, his spiritual strength continues to witness to his faith and in the Lord Jesus, whom he has served so faithfully throughout his life. He will continue to serve the Church through the sacrifice of his prayers.”
Michael Ryan, who runs Michael G Ryan Son & Daughters funeral directors in Newport, told the Argus he was “very disappointed”.
He said: “I’ve never heard of a Pope resigning. It’s absolutely shocking, being from a Catholic family as we are, though I’m not personally Catholic. My father, wife and all the children are Catholic, it’s a hell of a shock,” said Mr Ryan.
“I’m stunned. If he feels he can’t commit himself to the job he’s got, you’ve got to give him credit for it.”
Pope Benedict XVI is the first pontiff in 600 years to step down. His successor will be elected in March.
Lord Touhig, the former MP for Islwyn, who is also a papal knight, expressed sadness at the move.
“I think the Pope is a good and holy man.
“His devotion to his ministry is such that he feels his health is so poor he can’t carry out his task as he wants. He’s the sort of person that would want to give 110 per cent to everything that he does. Clearly he’s thought and prayed about this and for him it’s the right thing to do.”
COMMENT: A younger Pope vital
THE resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was historic and unexpected – but it provides the Catholic Church with a golden opportunity.
The Holy Father will stand down at the end of the month – the first Pope to resign in almost 600 years – because he believes he is too old to do the job in the modern world.
There is a message for the Vatican in his resignation statement. The Pope is effectively telling the Catholic Church that a younger man is needed at its helm to cope with the fast-changing demands of the 21st century.
When cardinals meet to choose the Pope’s successor they should heed this message.
They need to skip a generation when they choose the next man to head the Holy See.
Pope Benedict was 78 when he succeeded Pope John Paul in 2005. It was inevitable that his papacy would be considerably shorter than his predecessor’s 26 years.
The next Pope needs to be someone younger, more in touch with the modern world and modern Catholics, and ready to grasp the nettle of modernisation.
Benedict remained ultraconservative in his approach to homosexuality, women priests and contraception.
That must change. His successor must leave a modernising mark on Catholicism. It is an opportunity the Vatican should not spurn.