BENDIGO’S Catholic community is still coming to terms with news of Pope Benedict XVI’s imminent resignation.
The 85-year-old announced his decision to step down during a meeting of Vatican cardinals this week – saying age prevented him from carrying out his duties.
He will officially resign on February 28, making him the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years.
Bishop of Sandhurst Les Tomlinson was yesterday sympathetic of the church leader’s predicament.
“I suppose there’s mixed feelings,” Bishop Tomlinson said.
“I have a great admiration for Pope Benedict XVI and a deep admiration for what he’s given to the church over the past eight years as pope and indeed before that.
“I also have a certain sympathy for him.
“He made it clear that he’d reflected and prayed over this decision and it comes from the point of view that he feels he’s no longer able to meet the demands of the office.”
Bishop Tomlinson found out about Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down through a text message on Monday night.
“Somebody sent me a text message late, it must have been just after the announcement,” he said. Father Brian Lucas, the general secretary of the Australian Bishops Conference, described Pope Benedict XVI’s decision as “a very courageous decision of the Pope for the good of the church”.
“He has recognised that his health and age are impeding his ability to fulfil his role and for the good of the Church has indicated that the time has come for the election of a new Pope.
“I was in Rome with the president and vice president of the Bishops Conference three weeks ago and it was evident that the Pope was frail.
“While he is certainly mentally very alert, the physical demands of the role and the travel and all that is required in the modern world has led him to reflect and pray and take this very courageous and serious decision.” The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants.