THE St Agnes’ Parish priest has labelled Pope Benedict XVI’s shock resignation as a brave and heroic decision.
Pope Benedict announced he would step down on February 28 as he was unable to adequately fulfil his duties due to advanced age and failing strength.
St Agnes’ Parish priest Father Leo Donnelly said he thought Pope Benedict had made quite a heroic decision as it was the first papal resignation in about 600 years.
Pope Benedict is the first pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
“It is also an acknowledgement of the times in which we live,” Father Donnelly said.
“In the past, popes haven’t had anything like the demands they have now.”
Father Donnelly said the resignation was a brave decision.
“I think there will be great appreciation in certainly the Catholic community, and even the wider community, that he has taken this wise decision,” Father Donnelly said.
The last pope had Parkinson’s disease and experienced failing health before his death in 2005.
This pope very wisely decided the time had come to step down, Father Donnelly said.
Pope Benedict has led the Catholic Church since he was chosen in 2005 at age 78.
A conclave will elect his successor.
In a statement, Pope Benedict said: “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.”
Father Donnelly said two splendid encyclicals – one on hope and the other about charity – were landmarks of Benedict’s papacy.
Father Donnelly believes Pope Benedict will be seen as something of an interim pope as his papacy was one of the shortest in many years.
“The interesting thing now is who is going to be the next Pope,” Father Donnelly said.
Speculation has already started about just that.