December 6 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Prayers were being said in churches across East Anglia last night for the pope following the shock news that he is to resign as head of the Catholic Church later this month.
His announcement that he felt his “strengths due to an advanced age” meant he was no longer suited for the role caught everyone by surprise.
Father David Bagstaff, the Diocesian Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of East Anglia, said: “I share the sense of shock and surprise that so many people are experiencing at the news that Pope Benedict has resigned his office as leader of the Catholic Church with effect from February 28.
“In this decision I see his deep love for the Church that he has served so faithfully throughout his life in many different roles. He, above all people, will be aware of the physical, mental and spiritual strength needed to fulfil the role of the Successor of St. Peter and so he will also be the best person to judge whether or not those demands are now too great for him. Whilst the powerful witness of his predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II in his suffering in the latter part of his life is acknowledged and applauded, so too we can applaud this courageous decision of Pope Benedict. He lays aside one particular role for the good of the Church and embraces a new role in which he continues to serve through a life dedicated to prayer.
“We all remember his visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010, during which he touched the hearts of many, not just Catholics, but Christians of other denominations, people of other faiths and none, by his humility, compassion and obvious care as a pastor. His commitment to preach the Gospel is clear in his many teaching documents and in the three books which have been published by him, helping us to know and understand the person of Jesus more clearly.
“Our prayers are with him and also with those who will be involved in the process of electing his successor. We trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the Church and ask Our Lady of Walsingham to pray for us and with us.”
Father David has been in charge of the Diocese, which covers the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and the unitary authority of Peterborough since the death of Bishop Michael Evans in July 2011 while a new bishop is appointed.
Blessings and prayers were also sent to the pope from those of Anglican faith, including Graham James, Bishop of Norwich.
He said: “Pope Benedict has surprised the whole Christian world by the announcement of his resignation. He will be remembered as an eminent scholar, quietly determined to proclaim the good news of Christ. His visit to England in 2010 will long remain in my memory, especially the great service in Westminster Abbey.
“Pope Benedict has often been regarded as a very traditional Catholic, yet he is only the second pope ever to have resigned. I well understand why at the age of 85 he believes the task should pass to a younger man.
“All Christians will pray that he receives many blessings in the years which remain for him.”