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Catholics surprised at pope's decision to retire

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm •  Published: February 11, 2013

"It's true they brought the religion to us, but we have come of age," he said. "In America, now we have a black president. So let's just feel the impact of a black pope."


Following the surprise resignation, Israeli leaders lauded Pope Benedict XVI as a friend.

One of Israel's two chief rabbis, Yona Metzger, said relations between the rabbinate and the Catholic Church "were the best ever" under Benedict. Israel's president, Shimon Peres, said the pope was a "clear voice against racism and anti-Semitism."


Louis Sako, the Iraq-based leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church, said the pope, in resigning, "is an example, when we cannot serve, to let another one do better." Sako met with the pope last week and said he noticed then how tired the pontiff seemed.


Antonio Marto, the bishop of Fatima in central Portugal, said Benedict resignation presents an opportunity to pick a church leader from a country outside Europe.

"Europe today is going through a period of cultural tiredness, exhaustion, which is reflected in the way Christianity is lived," Marto told reporters. "You don't see that in Africa or Latin America where there is a freshness, an enthusiasm about living the faith.

"Perhaps we need a pope who can look beyond Europe and bring to the entire church a certain vitality that is seen on other continents."


Anders Arborelius, the bishop of Stockholm's Catholic diocese, said the resignation would likely make it more common for future popes to step down when they feel old and frail. "It will probably be a new trend," he said.

Arborelius also said the new pope would probably not be a European.

"A lot suggests that it will be someone from another continent," he said. "The Church's center of gravity has moved from the West to the southern hemisphere."


Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of South Africa told The Associated Press "I think we would have a better chance of getting someone outside of the northern hemisphere this time, because there are some really promising cardinals from other parts of the world.

"It's a question of where is the kind of (and) the quality of leadership evident at the moment: Coming from a growing background rather than a holding or a maintenance background?"


French President Francois Hollande said Benedict's decision "stirs the greatest respect" and praised the pope "for all the efforts he led in support of peace."

"It's a courageous and exceptional decision," he said.


British Prime Minister David Cameron told lawmakers in Parliament that Benedict "has worked tirelessly to strengthen Britain's relations with the Holy See and his visit to Britain in 2010 is remembered with great respect and affection."