Thursday, 17 April 2014

Pope's resignation is unique in modern history, expert says

12 February 2013

Prague, Feb 11 (CTK) - The resignation of a Pope is utterly unique in the modern history of the Catholic Church, historian and expert on the church Jarosalv Sebek told CTK yesterday in reaction to the unexpected announcement by Benedict XVI that he will resign as from February 28 for health reasons.

Nothing like this has happened since the Middle Ages, Sebek said.

He said the Pope cited a reason that is unchallengeable, but added that the decision may have also been accelerated by scandals in the Vatican, such as the leaks of secret documents.

Benedict XVI, 85, told cardinals that he had been long considering leaving the post.

He said he feels the burden of old age and that he has no more forces to duly carry out the office.

According to CTK's sources in the Vatican, the Pope looked very tired of late.

Yet, his announcement has been a shock and surprise. A revolution is allegedly spoken about in the Vatican.

"What has happened happens in political posts, but in the case of the Pope this has happened for the first time in modern history. The last real voluntary resignation was that of Celestine V who gave up the post after five months in 1294," Sebek said.

He said he expects the conclave to elect a new Pope to be convoked very quickly after February 28.

The Pope's decision is surprising, unusual and of a breakthrough character, Czech Catholic church dignitaries have told CTK.

Benedict XVI's unexpected resignation is a great gesture of respect for the office, Olomouc Archbishop Jan Graubner said.

"This is a surprise because this has not happened for centuries," Graubner said.

"We acknowledge that he has a right to this. If it is so, it is a great gesture of respect for the office as he realises his health limitations, humbly accepting this," Graubner said.

"This is a sign of personal greatness," Graubner added.

"Although this is not quite a usual solution, I am convinced that the Pope made up his mind after a long deliberation and for the church's well-being," Brno Bishop Vojtech Cikrle has told CTK.

Cikrle met Benedict XVI during the first papal visit to Brno in 2009.

Hradec Kralove Bishop Jan Vokal said he extremely esteemed Benedict XVI.

"In my view, his leaving for health reasons is a very painful loss. I am greatly moved," Vokal said.

Benedict XVI's decision was very wise and brave, Plzen Bishop Frantisek Radkovsky has told CTK.

Radkovsky said he esteemed Benedict XVI as a man of exceptional intellectual capabilities and of open conduct and thinking as exemplified by his relation to Jews and other churches.

Radkovsky said it was difficult to compare Benedict XVI with his predecessor John Paul II.

Both of them left their trace in history, he added.

"Every pope is different, the next one will be different, too. This is good because he must react to the situation and deal with arising problems. Besides, the times have also much changed since the era of John Paul II," Radkovsky said.

Radkovsky said he recalled a number of moments from his personal meetings with Benedict XVI.

He never failed to mention that he considered Radkovsky a "neighbour."

The Plzen diocese, west Bohemia, borders on Benedict XVI's native Bavaria.

Lukas Evzen Martinec, abbot of the Stare Brno Augustinian Monastery, said the resignation was no shocking news to him.

Some signs appeared in the past months, Martinec said.

He refused to evaluate in detail Benedict XVI's pontificate. Martinec said the future would harvest the fruit of his work.

Martinec said Benedict XVI made him happy in 2009 when he highlighted the personality of Gregor Johann Mendel, founder of genetics, who was also abbot of the Stare Brno monastery.

Martinec studied in Rome in the early 1990s where he had a personal meeting with the future pope.

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