Head of the Catholic Pope Benedict XVI on Monday announced his resignation due to advanced age, an announcement that shocked the world, including the Catholic Church in Malawi.
Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) secretary Father George Buleya said in an interview on Monday the Pope’s resignation has come as a surprise because it was unprecedented, considering that the last time this happened was in 1415, nearly 600 years ago.
But Buleya, in response to questions, explained there was no way this was going to bring confusion in the Catholic Church because there are laid-down procedures in situations where a Pope dies in office or calls it quits.
Said Father Buleya: “The [Canon] law does provide what procedures to follow when that happens, there are laid-down procedures for choosing another Pope.”
All international media outlets, television stations and online publications, were awash with the Pope’s resignation due at 8pm on February 28 2013.
The Pope’s statement reads: “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 not 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, strength 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.”
The Pope said for that reason, and well aware of the seriousness of that act, he announced his resignation with effect from February 28. He asked the Church to entrust the Holy Church to the care of the Supreme Pastor, the Lord Jesus Christ, and implored his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.
Pope Benedict XVI, 85, announced his resignation in Latin to a meeting of Vatican cardinals.
He is the first to resign since Gregory XII in 1415, but no Pontiff in history has stepped down on health grounds.
Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, Pope Benedict XVI was chosen as 265th head of the Catholic Church by the Cardinals on April 19 2005 at the age of 78 to succeed the deceased John Paul II.