SINGAPORE: The Catholic Church in Singapore is reeling from the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s sudden resignation. The 85—year—old pontiff announced on Monday that he will step down on February 28, and cited age as the main factor for his decision.
Pope Benedict XVI is the first pontiff to resign in centuries, and Catholics in Singapore are still trying to come to terms with this break in tradition.
"I’m really surprised because normally Popes, they live and do their duties until God calls them back home," said a local Catholic.
The news also shocked the head of Singapore’s Catholic Church, Archbishop Nicholas Chia.
He said: "Well, we’re all very surprised by the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI about his resignation. We never expected it. But definitely he has been thinking about it, and with such serious reasons, he is taking the step."
Calling the outgoing Pope a brilliant man and a great academic, Archbishop Chia said he has also made great contributions to the Catholic Church.
"We’re all very grateful to him for all he has done during his pontificate since 2005, and contributing so much to the church. We are sorry to lose him. But at the same time, we know that it is for the good of the church, for the future. So we pray for him," added Archbishop Chia.
Church leaders in Singapore said the Pope’s resignation shows great humility.
Eugene Vaz, the Vicar—General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, said: "I think (this is an) encouraging note to all Catholics in Singapore. An inspirational moment also... We’ve got a leader who’s really caring. Not just for himself but for the Church, and ready to take the steps to make sure that the Church would move on, continue being relevant.
"As he himself says, at his age, he finds it difficult to keep pace with the quick changes that are taking place in the world. So you need somebody who would be more adept to that. And he feels his time is over."
Monsignor Vaz added that the Pope will be remembered for his strong leadership and as a champion of Catholic tradition.
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