By Akin Akande, Abuja
Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) yesterday reacted to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, saying it was due to old age and failing strength, and not for any particular kind of terminal illness, moral or legal guilt or political pressure.
The Pope was quoted as having expressed his desire to resign from the office of the Supreme Pontiff, as from 8.00 pm on 28th February.
Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu, Secretary General of the CSN, said even though the information came as shocking and unexpected, it is a privilege which the Pope is entitled to.
He said: “The law requires that for the resignation of the Pontiff to be valid, it has to be freely made and properly manifested but it does not require the acceptance of anybody or group to be effective. Some Pope had resigned in the past.”
Madu added that the story of the Pope resignation was true “having spoken to the proper offices concerned with matters of such information, we confirm that it is true.
It came to all of us as shocking, unexpected, as you would expect, but not totally strange.
“The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI is resigning for reasons of old age and failing strength, and not for any particular kind of terminal illness, moral or legal guilt or political pressure for that matter. We said that it is not strange because following the tenets of the laws and practices of the Catholic Church, Popes had resigned in the past.
“Pope Celestine V who died in 1296, had resigned two years earlier in 1294 and Pope Gregory XII also resigned in 1415. The current code of canon law promulgated in 1983 (canon 332 para. 2), also makes allowance for the resignation by the Roman Pontiff from the exercise of the Petrine ministry.
In announcing his resignation Pope Benedict XVI had 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.
“I am well aware that this ministry due to its essential spiritual nature must be carried out only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
“However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of Faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.”
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Bishop of Rome by his Venerable Brother Cardinal Electors at the Conclave in Rome on the 16th of April, 2005 and he took the name Pope Benedict XVI at the age of 78.