Archbishop’s shock as Pope resigns

Share Button
Archbishop of Liverpool Patrick Kelly; Pope Benedict XVI © Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Archbishop of Liverpool Patrick Kelly; Pope Benedict XVI © Wikipedia/Creative Commons

The Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, has spoken of his surprise at today’s announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he is set to resign as head of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of this month.

The Pope says he is now too old to carry out his duties at the age of 85, making this the first time that a Pope has resigned since 1415, with it being customary for almost 600 years to serve until death.

The Vatican says that they hope the spell between his resignation and the appointment of his successor will be “as brief as possible”.

Archbishop Kelly, who last month also revealed he is to step down from his role in Liverpool after suffering a stroke, spoke exclusively to JMU Journalism about the Pope’s shock decision.

Pope Benedict XVI

Born Joseph Ratzinger on April 16th 1927, in Marktl, Germany

Former member of the Hitler Youth

Ordained as a priest in 1951

Became a professor at the University of Bonn in 1959

Became the Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals in 1998 and elected Dean in 2002

Became Pope on 19th April 2005 after the death of John Paul II

First Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415

Visited the UK in 2010

He said: “First of all my reaction was like that of many, total surprise, but in the same breath it was also gratitude and admiration. Gratitude, because it was typical of the man I’ve known for some years. He puts the wellbeing of the Church first.

“On the night he was elected it was said that the Church had elected a strict right-wing conservative, and I said ‘that is not the man I know’. When he came here (to the UK) we got to see how warm he is. He is a man of great wisdom, integrity and compassion.

“Now the cardinals have to meet and decide on his successor. It’s silly to say who the next Pope will be; all the last four have been surprises. But I don’t think that will take very long.”

“I would say to the catholics of Liverpool to give thanks for a great Pope, to give thanks for the wisdom he showed us, and thanks for the three books he gave us. All his life was focused not on himself, but on the Lord.”

In a statement released by the pontiff, Pope Benedict said: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

He added: “Both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.”

JMU Journalism took to the streets of Liverpool to seek reaction to the Pope’s retirement. Student Jessica Anderton, 20, said: “I was a bit surprised when I heard that the Pope was resigning, I didn’t even know the Pope was allowed to resign to be honest. I am a catholic so I will be paying attention to who gets chosen next.”

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI © Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Shy Ghassemi, a 21-year-old student, said: “I found out when I logged onto Twitter and my whole newsfeed just blew up. I think it might be the right thing to do, especially if he is too old to complete his duties. It’s a really serious job and a lot of people obviously view the Pope as a big figure in society.”

It is expected that Pope Benedict’s successor will be announced before the end of the March, with Ghanaian Cardinal, Peter Turkson, said be among the front runners to become the first black Pope in history.

Additional reporting by Sinead Cunningham, Calum Metcalfe, Joe Lanigan-Smith & Ian Bolland

About Rory O'Reilly, JMU Journalism