MANILA - Both Malacanang and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) expressed regret over the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, and sought prayers for the strength of the Catholic church.
In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said: “At this time, when the Pope has announced the physical challenges he faces makes it difficult to continue bearing the burdens of his office, we join the Catholic world and all whose lives he has touched, in prayer and sympathy.”
Fr. Francis Lucas, Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media executive secretary, appealed to Filipinos and the faithful “to pray very hard” for the Pope and the upcoming conclave in choosing the next leader of the church.
In an interview with ANC, he said Pope Benedict was steadfast in leading the Church despite the many hitches, such as the events in the world ranging from natural calamities to politics.
Lacierda also said: “With millions of Filipino Catholics the world over, and the great religions of the world who found in Benedict XVI a man of sincere spiritual dialogue and great intellectual engagement, we hope and pray the Catholic Church and the Holy See will emerge from the coming period of the Sede Vacante, the conclave to come, with the election of a new Pope prepared to take up the great burdens and expectations of the Catholic faithful worldwide.”
He noted the “prayers and comforting words Pope Benedict XVI has dedicated to Filipinos in times of calamity and challenge.”
Under Pope Benedict XVI, the second Filipino saint, San Pedro Calungsod, was canonized.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle was also made cardinal last year. He will be joining the conclave.
Lacierda said the Pope’s resignation “is also an act of supreme faith in the institution he has headed, and the faith he has proclaimed to the world. We pause in human sympathy with Pope Benedict XVI in his acknowledgement of the great physical burden of his office.”