Tuesday, February 12, 2013

More reactions in Asia to Benedict XVI's resignation


The announcement of the resignation of Benedict XVI has caused quite a stir across Asia. Church leaders and others shared their views here with AsiaNews.

His Beatitude Mar Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of Syro-Malankara (Kerala, India)

It is quite surprising. No one expected it from our Pope Benedict XVI. At the same time, I am convinced that this kind of thing can only come from a saint, because there are no precedents in the recent past and because it comes from someone like the Holy Father, who is respected for his deep relationship with God and his sincere love for the Church. He thought that the Church needed a new guide to ensure an effective Petrine Ministry; hence, for this reason, he has decided to resign from the active ministry as bishop of Rome.

Mgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart, metropolitan archbishop of Aleppo for the Greek-Melkite Church

Pope Benedict XVI is a man of courage who is not afraid of defending the truth in front of the world. He was the first and for many months the only leader to appeal for an end to the war in Syria through dialogue and diplomacy. We are grateful to him for what he has done for a people torn by the conflict. His visit to Lebanon epitomises his sincere closeness. We are very sad that he has resigned, but we trust the wisdom and deep spirituality that brought him to this choice.

During the years of his pontificate, he has shown boundless love for the Church and Jesus Christ. He was an extraordinary pope at a difficult time for the world and for Catholics. He knew how to express the thoughts of the Church as well as God's will without timidness or hesitations using simple but strong terms, clarity and transparency.

In his speech in Regensburg, he addressed Muslims for the first time, indicating a path based on fundamental values and reason for a true dialogue between faiths so as to stem rampant Islamic fundamentalism. Nowadays, the extremism the pope talked about is no longer an isolated phenomenon. It is spreading and is in danger of destroying the nations of the Middle East, starting with Syria.

I was lucky to meet him. I spoke with him in private only once. After I wrote a book in Arabic about John Paul II's life, I came to Rome to give him a copy. I was moved when he received me even though there were many bishops and important people behind me.

I still remember with emotion those moments, especially his capacity to listen. In the past few years, he has been a true father and pastor for all the bishops and all the priests, especially for the Christians of the Middle East.

Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land

I am stunned by the news. It is a gesture that we must understand in its profundity because it is quite new for the Church. We shall see where it will end. His action is truly important. We need time to digest it. Somehow, I think it demystifies in a positive way some aspects of the Petrine Ministry.

Pope Benedict XVI has always been close to us in the Holy Land. He made a major trip to the region. He spoke to us, led the synod and gave us the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente. I am certain that the Holy See will continue to be concerned about the Holy Land.

Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC)

We shall miss Benedict XVI a lot for what he was, for his quiet ways. He was the most inspiring pope in our lifetime. The results the pontiff obtained are unforgettable. He renewed the worship in the Church, reconnecting it to the majesty and deep piety of the past. He forged new ties with non-Catholics, for example, by bringing former Anglicans into the fold through the Ordinariate. He issued papers that brought the love and teachings of Christ back to Church institutions, which he now feels he can no longer lead.

Lenin Raghuvanshi, an atheist and activist, head of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh, India)

The pope's resignation shows the perfection of truth, confirming all his teachings and prayers. This is the spirituality of truth. The extraordinary step taken by the head of the Catholic Church is a powerful message of detachment and simplicity to the world. This is real power. It is in keeping with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. In a world that clamours for power and status, the pope leads the way to the truth as the first pope to resign in over 600 years.

This historic event is a lesson for the international community, that the greatest power is found in truth and the courage of conviction for the good of the whole world.

It is amazing. His Holiness, not only through his spiritual leadership, but also through his frailty, has become the leader of world with insight and wisdom, challenging the logic and sensibilities of the world. This is real power. This is truth. This is strength and fortitude.

His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, Chaldean patriarch of Iraq

Benedict XVI has been a model for all of us, Catholics and non-Catholics. We must respect him even more for this act of humility. The pope has shown his greatness to the world, the wonder of his character, taking a step that we must all do when our body and spirit prevent us from continuing. He made a choice that history shall remember, starting with the men of the clergy and the Church. Too many times, many of us have refused to leave a see even though we could not fulfil our duties.

The pontiff has reminded us once more that the see exists to serve, not to be served. In fact, when we recently met him after my appointment as the head of the Chaldean Church, we saw small changes to the protocol, a sign of some of the difficulties he was having. On that occasion, pope and patriarch were supposed to address the ceremony after the celebration.

However, we were told that this would not occur. We then realised that he was tired and could no longer bear the weight of his tasks.

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