The New Times (Kigali)

12 February 2013

Africa: Pope Benedict XVI to Resign

Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of this month.

The Italian news agency Ansa reported the surprise decision yesterday morning, and the news was later confirmed by spokesman Federico Lombardi, who said, "The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 7pm on 28 February."

Although unusual, resignation is allowed through canon law. Benedict XVI is the first pope to resign in centuries. The last pontiff to step down was Pope Gregory XII during the 1400s.

Rwandans react

"We have seen the communiqué where he says he is physically exhausted and cannot keep leading the church," said Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege, the spokesman of the Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda and Bishop of Kabgayi Diocese.

According to Mbonyintege, the resignation won't leave any gap because the church is a well built system where anybody knows their duty.

"In one month, the congregation of cardinals will vote for another pope," he said, adding that this should not worry any Christians since it is a good legacy he is leaving to show that if anyone feels the pope is no longer physically fit, he can step down. One thing Rwandan Christians can remember about the Pope is his dedication in Kinyarwanda where he wished Rwandans merry Christmas last year.

"With his body getting weak, he couldn't plan a visit to Rwanda, but he usually asks about Rwanda, and the process of reconciliation," said Mbonyintege.

According to Mbonyintege, the German, Joseph Alois Ratzinger, globally known as Pope Benedict XIV, who was voted head the Roman Catholic Church on April 19, 2005, is a Christian role model.

Father Oreste Incimatata, the Director of Caritas Rwanda, a charity organisation of the Roman Catholic Church said, the Pope was characterised by a resolve to stick to the church doctrine without getting waved by any wind. Incimatata added that the Pope is an intellectual, a passionate writer, who always discusses an issue with valid arguments.

The 265th successor of Simon Peter ,referred to as first Pope, Benedict XVI, 85, succeeded Pope John Paul II, who died on April 2, 2005. The Catholic Church has 1,196 billion followers worldwide.

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