PRIMATE of African Church, Most Rev. Emmanuel Udofia, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Mainland Diocesan bishop of African Church, Rt. Rev. Ola Ade Ajayi and a Catholic priest who pleaded anonymity have said that the recent resignation by Pope Benedict XVI is in order, arguing that Nigerian leaders should borrow a leaf from the act.
Reacting at different fora, to the uproar that greeted the news of the pope's decision to abdicate with effect from Thursday, due to declining physical ability to cope with the demands of his office, the clerics said the action would not jeopardize the smooth administration of the universal church.
Most Rev. Udofia told our reporter that Nigerian leaders who would rather remain in office even when they are not fit, must take a cue from the action of the Pope, adding "I want to advise our leaders who want to die in office to learn from what this servant of God had done. Our leaders who know that their health is failing but to stay put just to prevent others from coming in, must imitate this man of integrity."
Archbishop Martins in a release signed by the Director of Social Communications, Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu, said the Pope acted in humility and love for the church.
His decision is to 'renounce' his esteemed position on realizing his declining physical ability was in conformity with the Canon Law and in obedience to the dictates of his conscience.
According to Archbishop Martins: "We do not have this sort of event happening everyday but at the same time we know that the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983, makes provisions for the resignation of the Pope if he becomes incapacitated or, as with Benedict XVI, if he believes he is no longer able to effectively carry out his official functions due to a decline in his physical ability.
"This is not the first time that a Pope would resign. In fact we have had not less than three Popes who resigned including Pope Celestine V in 1294 and Pope Gregory XII in 1415. Pope Benedict XVI was not forced into taking that decision," he stated.
Archbishop Martins said the Pope's decision to go into retirement and 'devotedly serve the Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer,' should serve as a great lesson for those in positions of authority, especially political office holders in Africa and other parts of the world, to resist the temptation of clinging to power at all costs including the murder of the very people they want to govern.
In his response, Bishop Ade Ajayi said what has happened is not shocking because God has a purpose for every occurence, saying "there is no new thing in this world. What has happened must not be shocking to anybody."
The Catholic priest who pleaded anonymity, said Nigerian and African politicians should know that they cannot hold on for life even the...but I think every leader, public servant should learn from this man.
"We had somebody like Mandela who could have stayed on but he did not and he was celebrated. If we can learn to respect the people and know that it is all about service either as the Pope. They should be able to throw in the towel when they realise that they can no longer serve the people and give room for someone who is capable to do the job," the priest said, adding that it is not in African character to resign but "I will put it that it should be in the character of the civilized person to resign when he/she realise that he/she is no longer capable of rendering the service he/she is in need of."