Bishop praises Pope Benedict XVI's strength of character

POPE Benedict XVI’s pending resignation is further proof of his love for the Catholic Church, says Bathurst’s leading cleric.

In a turn of events not seen for almost 600 years, the Vatican has been handed a resignation from the man in its top job.

In an official statement made on Monday, Pope Benedict XVI cited health reasons as a determining factor in his decision to step down. 

“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,” he told cardinals at the Vatican.

The move has come after months of speculation that the Pope may be suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Catholic Bishop of Bathurst Michael McKenna said the pontiff’s resignation was a demonstration of his love for the Church.

“Pope Benedict has faced realistically that old age has prevented him doing all the things his position requires, so he is stepping down to allow for someone more vigorous to do it,” Bishop McKenna said yesterday.

Bishop McKenna praised the Pope’s strength of character, saying he had shown sophistication as a theologian. The Bishop of Bathurst further suggested the step may reshape expectations of the role in the modern world.

Pope Benedict will officially retire from his position on February 28. As the world waits to see who will fill the top job at the Vatican, speculation is running rife that it is time to anoint a candidate from outside Europe.

“I don’t think Cardinal Pell would see himself as a possible successor, considering there have only been two papal appointments outside Italy since 1978,” Bishop McKenna said.

PRAISE: Catholic Bishop Michael McKenna. 	062911cbishp1a

PRAISE: Catholic Bishop Michael McKenna. 062911cbishp1a