Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, addressed the topic during an interview with the German weekly newspaper Munchner Kirchenzeitung (erzbistum-muenche.de).- of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.
Questioned about the Pope´s eventual resignation, the Cardinal replied: "I have not asked him yet. However, if he saw that he couldn´t go on, he would surely retire. While it does not cost him further suffering, he remains firm. What always impresses us is his iron will."
In regard to the physical transformation the Pope has undergone in recent years, Cardinal Ratzinger added: "He has become more tranquil, he speaks less, but he always listens very attentively and asks questions that show he still has great vivacity."
The press also gave extensive coverage to a phrase of Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras), currently in Rome to receive a doctorate "honoris causa" from the Pontifical Salesian University.
Cardinal Rodriguez said that "the Pope feels responsible and the day he realizes that he cannot continue, he will have the courage to say: ´I leave.´"
On Thursday, in Madrid, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, discarded the possibility of the Pope´s retirement with these words: "the option of his resignation has not come up at this time."
The Cuban Archbishop praised the Holy Father´s attitude to "overcome the limitations of his health" and appear before everyone "with the humility that characterizes him and surmounting his health problems to continue serving the Church."
"His conduct and capacity to congregate is an example and an appeal to our consciences," the Cuban Cardinal said, in statements reported by Europa Press.
The decision on a papal resignation belongs to the Pope alone, established in Canon 333, 2 of the Code of Canon Law. "If the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, in order to be valid the resignation must be free and manifested formally, but must not be accepted by anyone," the Canon reads.
John Paul II made his position clear on Wednesday in front of thousands of pilgrims, saying: "I have confidence in your spiritual support to continue with fidelity in the ministry the Lord has entrusted to me."