Cardinal Reinhold Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, President of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe:
"Today, Pope Benedict XVI has announced his intention to resign on 28 February next. As COMECE President, 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."
He has always been deeply preoccupied by the danger of Europe forgetting its Christian roots and eventually loosing its soul. Europe, and the West as a whole, cannot be imagined without the contribution of Christianity. This contribution cannot only consist in criticising developments in our societies and depicting the future in dark colours. It must certainly always be our prophetic task. But more than that, it involves announcing the universal message of the Gospel, which is a message of hope, in the concrete situation of Europe."
We are grateful for his action full of blessings as Head of the Catholic Church as we look back to our many precious meetings with him during the time of his pontificate. We intend to remain inspired by the significant theology of Pope Benedict XVI for the future of our Church. We, as COMECE Bishops are with him in our prayers. In his retirement, we will remain in spiritual communion with him.“
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, President & CEO of Catholic Relief Services, based in Baltimore MD:
"“We give thanks to God for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. I was blessed to meet the Holy Father just a few weeks ago, and I was overwhelmed with how he radiated the love of God. He has been an inspiration to Catholic Relief Services, especially in how he has repeatedly stressed that our faith is inextricably linked to charity and social justice, which he expressed so eloquently in his encyclicals and most recently in his letter marking the season of Lent that we begin observing this week.”"
President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia:
“I was very surprised, as we all were, to hear the news. My immediate thoughts were that I would miss him enormously. On a personal note he was the Pope who appointed me as a Bishop, first in Paisley and then last year he asked me to become Archbishop of Glasgow.
“While I was Bishop of Paisley, I had 15 minutes alone with him to present my five-yearly report on the life of the local Church and I remember being struck by his great kindness - he was so gentle and humble, preferring to listen to me rather than speak himself."
“When he came to Scotland, I had the privilege of seeing him off at Glasgow Airport. He was clearly pleased, and a little relieved I think, with the first day of his visit to Great Britain and he took my hand in his, and said, in Italian: “Si vede che quì la Chiesa è viva” - It’s clear that the Church is alive here. That was as much a programme as it was a statement - we need to pray and work that the Church will be fully alive in Jesus Christ, for only He gives the Church true life."
“His contribution to the Universal Church was to turn us all towards the person of Jesus Christ in every circumstance. He did this in his homilies and addresses in the most insightful and thoughtful and creative of ways. He is, I believe, a latter-day Father of the Church in the footsteps of great saints like Irenaeus and Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine, and his writings will nourish hearts and minds for decades to come."
“As we look to the immediate future we recognise that this is an unprecedented time for the Church. No Pope has resigned since Celestine V in the 13th century. Pope Benedict will cease to be Bishop of Rome and Successor of St. Peter on 28th February. He has indicated that he will dedicate himself to a life of prayer thereafter. We have no more detail on that, nor as to where and how it will happen. All we know is that God will continue to provide for His Church, as He always has. "
My prayer today is for Pope Benedict XVI and for the man who will succeed him, and I would ask all Catholics to join with me in that prayer. God bless our Pope.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. 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."
Though 78 when elected pope in 2005, he set out to meet his people – and they were of all faiths – all over the world. He visited the religiously threatened – Jews, Muslims and Christians in the war-torn Middle East, the desperately poor in Africa, and the world’s youth gathered to meet him in Australia, Germany, Spain and Brazil."
He delighted our beloved United States of America when he visited Washington and New York in 2008. As a favored statesman he greeted notables at the White House. As a spiritual leader he led the Catholic community in prayer at Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. As a pastor feeling pain in a stirring, private meeting at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, he brought a listening heart to victims of sexual abuse by clerics."
Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism. Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity."
He unified Catholics and reached out to schismatic groups in hopes of drawing them back to the church. More unites us than divides us, he said by word and deed. That message is for eternity."
He spoke for the world’s poor when he visited them and wrote of equality among nations in his peace messages and encyclicals. He pleaded for a more equitable share of world resources and for a respect for God’s creation in nature."
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."
Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland:
“Like many people throughout the world, I was shocked and saddened to hear of the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to resign. I know that his decision will have been considered most carefully and that it has come after much prayer and reflection."
I will offer my prayers for Pope Benedict and call on the Catholic community of Scotland to join me in praying for him at this time of deterioration in his health as he recognises his incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to him."
I hope I will also be able to rely on the prayers of Catholics across the world for the Cardinal Electors as we prepare to travel to Rome in order to participate in the conclave, which will be convoked to elect a successor as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff.”
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.