- Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C.
"The news obviously came as a great surprise; however, once I had a chance to read the declaration that he issued saying why, I began to realize what a courageous man our Holy Father is. I have always thought of him as a person of great fortitude, but it takes enormous humility to be able to say in self-appraisal 'I can't do this any longer,' and then it takes great courage to say 'I'm actually going to take this step.' And as he said, he prayed over this; this was an action that comes out of his conscientious assessment of his role before God. I have nothing but admiration for our Holy Father. This was an enormous surprise, but at the same time one cannot help but admire the courage and the truthfulness and the humility."
Listen to the entire interview.
- Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Berlin
"For me he is one of the great theologians of [...] and intellectuals of our time."
- Cardinal John Tong, Bishop of Hong Kong
"The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, is a man of fervent prayer. In his statement announcing his resignation from the Petrine Ministry due to his advanced age, he pointed out that he had finally made this serious decision after a long period of prayer and extended reflection. He is deeply aware that in order to fulfill his papal duties, he cannot rely on word and deed alone, but also needs prayer. He entrusts the future of the Church to the Lord Jesus and to our Blessed Mother. After he resigns, he will serve the Church wholeheartedly through prayer. We express our heartfelt thanks to the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, for his guidance and good example, and we will always pray for him."
- Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, of Guadalajara, Mexico
"Pope Benedict XVI did not cling to power. His resignation should be understood from a perspective of faith and humility."
- Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
"The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did. His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter. ... Those who met him, heard him speak and read his clear, profound writings found themselves moved and changed. In all he said and did he urged people everywhere to know and have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
The occasion of his resignation stands as an important moment in our lives as citizens of the world. Our experience impels us to thank God for the gift of Pope Benedict. Our hope impels us to pray that the College of Cardinals under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit choose a worthy successor to meet the challenges present in today’s world."
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- Cardinal Raffaele Farina, retired head of the Vatican Secret Archives and the Vatican Library
"We were all taken by surprise, nobody had expected it. Many faces in the room were streaked with tears."
- Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila
"Pope Benedict XVI’s renunciation of the ministry as Bishop of Rome on February 11, 2013, came as a surprise. The announcement also brought sadness to us. We felt like children clinging to a father who bids them farewell. ... But sadness gives way to admiration for the Holy Father’s humility, honesty, courage and sincerity. ... We know that the Papal ministry is not an easy task. So we thank Pope Benedict XVI, who was elected Pope at the rather advanced age of 78, for selflessly guiding the Church these past eight years with his teaching, simplicity and gentleness."
- Cardinal Paolo Romeo, Archbishop of Palermo, Italy
"We were amazed by the Holy Father's decision. But it is a choice that deserves respect and shows his profound love for the Church."
- Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia
"It is very typical of his humility and of his clear thinking and his reasoning ... After the election of Pope Benedict, the cardinals went up one by one, and we were from all over the world, and here cardinals went up to express their obedience to the pope and to express their faith, their act of faith. And we each knelt before the pope for a moment, and as I was getting up, he floored me. He absolutely floored me. With everything going on – he had just been elected pope 30-40 minutes ahead of time – and he had the presence of mind, which he has maintained so magnificently during his whole pontificate, his mental presence is tremendous. He said to me as I was getting up, one of 113 I think we were at that time, 'Cardinal,' he says to me, 'Happy Birthday.' He happened to be elected on my birthday."
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- Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles
"Pope Benedict XVI has been an extraordinary Successor to St. Peter these past eight years, and I thank God for the graces and blessings which have come to the Church and to the world during his Pontificate. ... His homilies and addresses were so amazing because he was not speaking about Jesus Christ as a topic, but he was speaking about Jesus from a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus himself. It was that attraction to the person of Jesus Christ which flowed from all his many teachings for the Church and the world."
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- Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago
"Pope Benedict XVI has, in all circumstances, placed the will of God for the good of the Church before every other consideration. That same resoluteness of purpose speaks in his statement announcing his resignation from the Chair of Peter.
He has taught with clarity and charity what God has revealed to the world in Christ; he has handed on the apostolic faith; he has loved all of God’s people with all his heart. He has now shown great courage in deciding, after prayer and soul-searching, to resign his office at the end of this month."
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- Cardinal Seán O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston
"He's telling all of us it's not about the person; it's about the office; it's about the ministry; it's about the pastoral needs of the Church. And, of course, going into the conclave, I see that responsibility that we need to try and make a decision that reflects not just a personal choice but what we really believe is the best for God's people and who the very best person would be for this position."
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- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
"I am like most others surprise by the announcement and a little saddened. At the same time, the Holy Father was very clear and precise on his reasons for resigning. They center on the very meaning of the pope as, in the Latin text of the pope, as governing the ship of St. Peter, the Church, and proclaiming the gospel. ... The pope's words speak of his great devotion and love for the Church, his wonderful humility and his always generous leadership of the Church. ... He has been a genuine apostolic leader of the Faith, and we are all grateful for his governance, his astute theological mind and his great charity and visibility for the Catholic Church."
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- Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher and Archbishop emeritus of Baltimore
"My thoughts have been mainly with the Holy Father these days, and I think that's going to be the case until this whole episode is well behind us. It had to be a wrenching decision for him to make. The fact that he is certain he made the right decision – I am quite sure he is certain of that – still doesn't change the emotions. ... In one sense it will be easier for him, but in another sense it's going to be a very traumatic transition I think. ... I hope people understand the great contribution he has made, and will continue to make over the next two weeks and in his new life. Certainly that life will be no less dedicated to the Church and to Christ then it will have been during his years of active ministry as pope."
- Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
"Since his election in 2005, Pope Benedict has led the universal church with wisdom and holiness, offering to all the clear and loving message of the Gospel, and offering to each of us as well the personal example of a devoted disciple of Jesus exercising the mission of the Apostle Peter as a true servant of the servants of God. This is a time in which we all give thanks to God for the apostolic ministry of Pope Benedict. During this time of transition, we pray for his health and well-being as he enters a time of prayerful retirement. We also offer our prayers, in a special way, for the Cardinals of the world, who will gather in Rome in the coming weeks to choose the next successor to St. Peter."
- Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow
"With great respect and emotion I accept the Holy Father Benedict XVI's decision to resign from the governance of the Church and to entrust the care of Her future events to the College of Cardinals. I understand the reasons that the Holy Father presented to the members of the consistory. After John Paul II's death, Benedict XVI has guided Christ's Church with great reflection and wisdom, which come from his exceptional intellectual ability as well as his deep faith. I thank the Holy Father for all his efforts to renew the Church in the spirit of fidelity to the Teacher of Nazareth. As one of the bishops of Poland, I assure him of our gratitude for his friendship with John Paul II, for his beatification, and also for his exceptional benevolence toward the Polish nation. Personally, I will always be faithful and grateful for everything that I have received from him. The Church in Krakow will be eternally appreciative to the Peter of our time, Benedict XVI. Gratitude and fidelity. We will remain united in prayer and dedication, together with the Holy Father. I entrust Benedict XVI to the Holy Spirit and to Our Lady of Lourdes, the patroness of the day."
From Vatican Information Service.
- Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State
"The Eucharist is to give thanks to God. This evening we would like to thank the Lord for the path that the entire Church has taken under the guidance of Your Holiness, and we would like to tell him from the bottom of our hearts, with great affection, commotion and admiration: Thank you for having given us a bright example of a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord, a worker, however, that has known at each moment to do what was most important: bring God to man and man to God."
- Cardinal Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague
"I appreciate his spiritual courage to make this important step, which he already declared as possible at the start of his pontificate."
- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
"We are frail people. We do not have the courage to take such a significant leap. Only kings and great men like the present pontiff can display such courage to renounce the office of the pope."
- Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, of Ranchi, India
"We accept in all humility the decision of the pontiff to step down. ... There is a provision for resignation and it has also been used in the past. After the Pope formally leaves his position on February 28, we will once again meet and elect his successor."
- Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana
"Only a great love for Jesus Christ, for his Church and great humility can lead someone to take such a step."
- Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa"When he answered the question, on the day he was elected, 'what name do you take?', he gave us in very short sentences the layout of what he was going to set out to do. He chose the name Benedict because the previous Pope Benedict had been elected just when World War I was beginning, and he spent all of his pontificate working for reconciliation among the nations. And I think Benedict XVI has certainly done that in his time both within the Church and outside the Church. He has certainly worked for reconciliation. The second he said was that Pope St. Benedict in the time that he lived, the Roman Empire collapsed, the Church was in disarray, the Church was very weak, and St. Benedict was the instrument of God to renew the Church and rebuild the Church and renew the Faith. And I think that is what Pope Benedict has done. He's really gone out of his way to renew the Faith – the Year of Faith is an example of it, the different books, the encyclicals he has written – all working in that direction. And finally ... to make Jesus the center of everything in the life of the Church and the life of the Christian.
Listen to interview.
- Cardinal Keith O'Brien of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland
While "shocked and saddened" to hear of the pope's decision, "I know that his decision will have been considered most carefully and that it has come after much prayer and reflection."
- Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany, president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community
"This decision fills me with great respect but also with huge regret. Benedict XVI has been leading the world Church for eight years with immense dedication and shaped her with his clear theology in a crucial way. His theological thinking, always bringing together Faith and Reason, Church and Politics, has earmarked his groundbreaking theological and philosophical Speeches in Westminster Hall in London, in the German Bundestag as well as in Washington."
- Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras
"This is a tireless job, and he dedicates all his time to the Church. It is a decision of faith. ... Although we didn't know about this, we were thinking 'How much longer can he be the head of the Church?' ... The Church won't be left in the lurch. As Pope Benedict XVI has said, we are in God's hands, which are the best hands."
- Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria
"It is a very courageous decision he took. As bishops, we are expected to retire at the age of 75 but popes have no limit, so it's entirely his decision. He did it in the best interest of the Church. ...
There's no problem at all. The Church goes on. We shall have another pope because the Church can never be left without a pope. A conclave of eligible cardinals will be summoned to vote for a new pope. Every cardinal is eligible for the position. We are not a political party, so it's not a question of what this party or the other ones want. I will be there for the conclave, by God's grace."
- Cardinal George Pell of Sydney
"Overwhelmingly it will be a teaching legacy. He's been a great teacher ... volumes on the life of Christ, his couple of encyclicals. They're beautiful pieces of work. ... I think he's the best living Catholic theologian now."
- Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
"He has shown a high level of humility for seeing the truth inside himself and has come out publicly to announce his decision to resign. He has shown us that the only thing to fear is God and that God will always be there to guide us so long as we live in this world knowing that we belong to Him. ... It is a lesson to leaders who have overstayed in power to the extent that their people are suffering because they have failed to serve them. ... We will soon converge in Vatican but while there we are not guided by the colour of our skins, not by the continents where we come from but we surrender ourselves to God and the whole process is determined by the Holy Spirit."
- Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo
"It would be very pretentious for a cardinal to say, 'I am prepared.' No one is going to say 'I am a candidate.' ... The reflections that will be made at the conclave will not be about whether the pope comes from one place or another place, whether he has this origin or that origin, but whether he has the condition, is the most prepared to lead the Church in this moment of its history."
- Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna
"I am naturally very concerned and very touched by his completely conscious decision. I saw him last Thursday but he did not show any signs that he would resign." ... It was an "impressing, strong and clear decision made due to a huge sense of responsibility." It can only be "perceived and accepted with respect."
- Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
"It's very normal for people in any part of the world to gang behind somebody that they can associate with and they can feel part of. So, this for me is a natural phenomenon just as guys in Latin America are doing the same thing for cardinals from Latin America. This is essentially an exercise of the Catholic Church. Therefore before we start going continental, we need first to go Church, and think about what the Catholic Church in Africa can do or should do with such an event. When that is the case, then what we [are] heading for is the Catholic Church in Africa in communion with the Catholic Church around the world choosing a chief pastor, somebody to exercise leadership over the whole Church."
- Cardinal Franc Rode, retired prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
The initial reaction was as "sadness, the feeling that a father and leader is leaving," but not completely unexpected. "[W]e can only thank God for his beautiful pontificate."
Friday, February 15, 2013
Cardinal-electors respond to Pope Benedict's resignation, comment on conclave
After Pope Benedict XVI's announcement on Monday that he will resign from the papacy on Feb. 28, cardinal-electors – those cardinals who are eligible to vote for the next pope in the conclave – from around the world have responded with surprise, sadness, admiration and guidance for the transition.