The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, said today, Monday, 11 February 2013: “This morning I was very much taken aback to hear the news that Pope Benedict has decided to resign from office as the Successor of St Peter at the end of this month. I know that the first instinct of the Catholic people of the Midlands will be to pray for the Holy Father and to recall his more than seven years of generous service with enormous gratitude.
“Pope Benedict has shown courage and tremendous humility in coming to the decision that he has announced today. He has always sought to act for the good of the Church and this momentous decision is no exception, as he puts the Church’s mission before his own wishes or personal convenience.”
Archbishop Longley said: “As he prepares to step down as our Holy Father, Pope Benedict has shown that he has reflected on this decision in a profound spirit of obedience. He has listened carefully to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and he has followed the path he believes to be best for the good of the Church. He is now handing on the leadership of the Church during this Year of Faith, which he inaugurated last October, confident that the Holy Spirit will equip his successor for this task.”
The Archbishop of Birmingham said: “In Birmingham we will always remember Pope Benedict as the Pope who came to our city in September 2010 in order to beatify Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. He gave great encouragement not only to Catholics and other Christians but to all the city’s faith communities, reminding us of the important place that faith must play in public life.”
Archbishop Bernard Longley added: “Last October I witnessed Pope Benedict’s untiring dedication to the Church’s mission during the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. He attended the Synod most days during the three weeks it met and he listened intently to the contributions from bishops and theologians from around the world. He has been a remarkable servant of the unity of the Church.
“I pray that Pope Benedict may be blessed in the remaining days of his pontificate and I know that his example will continue to inspire us in the years to come.”
STATEMENT FROM ARCHBISHOP VINCENT NICHOLS, PRESIDENT OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES
The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said:
“Pope Benedict’s announcement today (Monday, 11 February 2013) has shocked and surprised everyone. Yet, on reflection, I am sure that many will recognise it to be a decision of great courage and characteristic clarity of mind and action.
“The Holy Father recognises the challenges facing the Church and that ‘strength of mind and body are necessary’ for his tasks of governing the Church and proclaiming the Gospel.
“I salute his courage and his decision.
“I ask people of faith to keep Pope Benedict in their prayers. We Catholics will do so, with great affection and the highest esteem for his ministry as our Holy Father remembering with joy his Visit to the United Kingdom in 2010.
“Pray, too, for the Church and all the steps that must take place in the next weeks. We entrust ourselves to the loving Providence of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”