Leadership (Abuja)

11 February 2013

Nigeria: Pope's Resignation Is in Line With Catholic Church Laws - Onaiyekan

Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan says the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to resign on Feb. 28 will not lead to crisis in the Catholic Church.

Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja, Onaiyekan called on all Catholic faithful in Nigeria to pray for the Pope and the church.

"There is no panic or crisis in the Church because of the Pope's decision to resign by Feb. 28," he told NAN in a telephone interview.

"A successor will be announced soon; his resignation is in line with the Canons and Laws of the Roman Catholic Church," Onaiyekan said.

Pope Benedict XVI, who is 85 years old made the announcement in Latin during a Vatican Cardinals meeting.

Later a Vatican statement explained that the pope was unable to continue in office due to his age and diminishing strength, adding that the Papacy would remain vacant until a successor is elected.

He is the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years.

In an interview with NAN, Anglican Bishop of Enugu, the Rt. Rev Emmanuel Chukwuma praised the courage of the Pope to step down.

Chukuwma, however, called on the Vatican to set an age-limit of retirement for Popes to avoid what he called "constrains associated with old age and failing health".

"We as Anglican bishops retire at the age of 70 or 65 voluntarily, Roman Catholic Bishops retire at 75.

"I therefore strongly feel that in this circumstance to avoid further constrains for the Papacy, the Pope should retire at the age of 80, if Catholic bishops retire at the age of 75.

"Anything more than 80 for the Pope, therefore, becomes a strenuous exercise because the task of being a Pope is so enormous," he said.

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