Outpouring of Support, Gratitude Continues After Historic Announcement

World and Religious Leaders Recall Pontiff's Devoted Leadership, Service to Church

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves | 1838 hits

Religious and world leaders from across the globe continued to pour in words of support for Pope Benedict XVI upon hearing the news that the 85 year old Pontiff resigned from the See of Saint Peter.

During a consistory yesterday morning, the Holy Father cited that his strengths "due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry" and that he would resign from the papacy on February 28th at 8:00pm.

Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, although surprised by the announcement, conveyed his support of Pope Benedict's decision saying that the Holy Father "has always loved the Church and worked to do what was best for her."

"We thank him for his years of devoted leadership and service and his brilliant teaching. We will pray for him as he enters retirement. We must also pray for the Church as she prepares to choose the next successor of Saint Peter," Cardinal Pell said.

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, stated that it was an historic day. "While it is a shock to me, we can be certain that Pope Benedict has made this decision after very careful and prayerful reflection," Cardinal Brady said.

The Archbishop of Armagh also noted the significance of the Pope choosing to make the announcement on the occasion of the World Day of the Sick and the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. "Our Lady always points us to her Son. In his statement today Pope Benedict pointed us to Christ as the Supreme Pastor of the Church," he said.

"On behalf of the Catholic Church in Ireland, with my fellow Bishops, I thank him for his generous service of the Universal Church and for the great love and concern he has always shown for the Church in Ireland."

American Prelates Express Gratitude to Supreme Pontiff

In a statement sent to ZENIT, Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, New Jersey said that news of the Holy Father's resignation while surprising, "left us with sentiments of a certain sadness and deep gratitude."

"His decision clearly reflects his love for the Lord and for the Church.  Over the decades our Holy Father has proven to be a sensitive pastor, a brilliant scholar and teacher with a profound and stalwart faith in our Loving God and His Son Jesus Christ."

Archbishop Myers offered prayers for Pope Benedict, who, upon resigning the See of Saint Peter, will retire to a cloistered monastery on the Vatican grounds.

"'May God, who chose you to preside over your whole people,' keep you safe and continue to accompany you and support you," Archbishop Myers stated.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, offered "prayerful gratitude for the Holy Father’s faith, courage and his leadership as the successor of Peter."

"At this time it is appropriate for the Church and all people of good faith to reflect on Pope Benedict’s legacy and achievements.  He brought unique capabilities to the papacy as a highly qualified scholar and teacher, and as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in service to Blessed John Paul II.  His fidelity to maintaining the truth and clarity of the Catholic faith, to cultivating ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and in reaching out to inspire the next generation of Catholics have been great gifts to us all."

Cardinal O'Malley recalled the Holy Father's visit to the United States in 2008, where he was present during Pope Benedict's meeting with survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

"At that meeting the Holy Father’s pastoral care for the survivors was clearly evident, as was his commitment and determination to heal the wounds of all persons impacted by the abuse crisis and to insure that the Church continues to do all that is possible to provide for the protection of children."

Cardinal O'Malley concluded his address calling upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the Church "moves forward to choose the next successor to Saint Peter."

President Obama, Chief Rabbi of Israel React to News

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking "on behalf of Americans everywhere", extended his appreciation and prayers to Pope Benedict XVI. The President recalled his visit along with First Lady Michelle Obama to the Vatican in 2009, stating that he "appreciated our work together over these last four years."

"The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s successor."

Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, praised Pope Benedict's efforts throughout his papacy in improving ties between Judaism and Christianity.

"During his period (as pope) there were the best relations ever between the church and the chief rabbinate and we hope that this trend will continue," a spokesman quoted Metzger as saying after the pope announced he would resign. "I think he deserves a lot of credit for advancing inter-religious links the world over between Judaism, Christianity and Islam."