The Pope’s resignation: Malaysians look ahead with hope

Pope Benedict XVI

A week ago, on February 11, 2013, Catholics all over the world were stunned to hear of the Pope’s resignation.

Pope Benedict XVI, 85,  the ‘Holy Father’ to Catholics worldwide said that his infirmity is the reason for this rare decision.

Pope Benedict XVI was the oldest pope elected at the ripe age of 78 on April 19, 2005.

He was the first German pope since the 11th century with real name Joseph Ratzinger.

Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY) approached a few Catholics, lay persons and priests, to hear their reaction to the news.

Steven Raj

Steven Raj, 24

“Its a sad news – he didn’t really have time to leave any impact on his people, except of the Year of Faith, the Year of Priest and the change in Roman Missal.

“Hoping for a good Pope to be elected, someone who is dynamic and focused on the direction of the Church.”

Anand K Pillai, 47, senior copy editor

“Pope Benedict XVI was to my recollection seen as someone with a strong personality among the Cardinals and overall clergy.

K. Anand

“I still remember watching CNN back in 2005 how the conclave had not decided on the next Pope over two votes and finally, after the third vote, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named Pope.

“He may have been a compromise-candidate among a group of Cardinals who may have differed on their earlier vote.

“Also, I think Cardinal Ratzinger may not have seen himself as the Pope, but more of the teacher and one who enforces the doctrine of the church.

“After 8 years and with old age, he has decided to pass the torch. It may be rare but not unprecedented.

“So, in this case, Pope Benedict’s move allows for a more dynamic and active Pope to take his place,”he said.

Andrew Ng, research project officer

“With Pope Benedict’s decision to resign, I certainly did not expect him to do so, but I believe he understands his capabilities at this time.

“He has done much for the Church in times of great pressure from the secular world, and it’s good to know that this will not be the last from him,” Ng said.

Martin Jalleh

Martin Jalleh, 57, well-known Catholic motivational speaker.

“I think it requires great courage and even greater humility for someone like Benedict XVI who holds such a powerful Office and especially seen by the more than 1.2 billion.

“It is evident to me that it was not a rash decision but one which (as he revealed) he arrived at after having repeatedly examined his conscience before God.

“In an interview two years ago the Pope had declared that if a pope clearly realises that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of an office, then he has a right and an obligation to resign.”

Ezekiel Raj

Ezekiel Raj

“Its amazing to see a world leader stepping down to make way for more competent persons to take over.

“Truly he leads by example!  Power is not everything,” said Ezekiel.

Geraldine Lau, 36, senior executive

“A surprise news for me in the midst of CNY celebration.

“I received messages from my friends to pass me this news while I was out visiting relatives.

“ I felt sad initially. However I admire Pope Benedict’s great courage.It takes great humility for a church leader to make this move where many leaders in the world and even in Malaysia would not do so.

“I’m sure that the Lord will lead the Catholic Church to greater heights with a new pope.”

Anil Netto

Anil Netto, popular blogger and activist

“Pope Benedict will go down in the history books as the first pope in the modern era to resign. It was a brave decision that he reached after searching his conscience.

“His decision to resign comes during the golden jubilee year of the Second Vatican Council, which was convened by Pope John XXIII, and this itself is significant.

“The Spirit prompted the church to move towards not just reforms but a continuous process of Pentecostal renewal. It is time we return to the vision of the Second Vatican Council.

“Benedict is an intelligent theologian but he had a mixed record. The stress from managing a number of critical issues must have taken its toll and sapped his energy.

“The case involving the butler highlighted the need to ensure transparency and accountability within the Vatican. The aspirations of women and the laity to play greater roles in leadership must be recognised.

“Among the challenges that the new pope must address are to cleanse the church from the sin of child abuse. The new pope must also try to make the church more inclusive – as many have been marginalised or are staying away from church for various reasons.

“Not a few feel that the church lacks empathy and compassion for their suffering. In fact, Vatican II urged the church to ‘The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted’.

“Ideally the new pontiff should be someone who will emphasise the pastoral dimension and understand how economic forces are oppressing workers and fabulously enriching a minority elite.

“The focus should be on the community and deepening spirituality rather than on physical infrastructure or superficial rituals and symbolism.

“The new pontiff also will have to speak prophetically against war and materialism while moving pressing issues like climate change up the agenda.”

Patricia Pereira

Patricia Pereira, 47, writer.

“I have nothing but admiration for the Pope in his decision to resign. I admire his courage for taking that step which many would have deemed ‘unthinkable’ for a Pope!

“I can only describe what he has done as a great act of love and sacrifice for the Church.

“There is so much that we can learn from this great act of the Holy Father – that one should not hold on to titles and power just for the sake of it.

“This should be food for thought especially for leaders who hold on to posts and refuse to let go even though they are no longer capable of providing effective leadership.

Angeline Shannan, 53, free-lance writer

“Pope Benedict XVI is being very honest with himself as well as the whole congregation of Catholics.

“His admission that he may not carry on much longer is a surprise to many, but should be taken with understanding and sympathy, although the reasons for it are not disclosed. It is not for anyone to judge him, probably between him and the Almighty.

“However, I would like to believe his resignation will usher in a new era, hopefully one that will bring the Church closer to the people, as Jesus was close to the people.

“So, all the best to the Holy Father and hope he will continue to serve the Lord even in a humbler capacity, remembering that in Christianity, a real leader is the servant of those he leads.”

Fr Dominic Santhiyagu

Fr Dominic Santhiyagu, priest in Penang

“This news is a total surprise for many of us. I am a bit sad but at same time proud of his decision.

“On three occasions i saw the pope from a distance, during my visit to Madrid and Rome. On those occasions I was truly touched by his fatherly presence and Holiness.

“Let us continue to pray for the Holy Father.”

Fr Clarence Devadass, priest in KL

“My first reaction on getting the news via sms was disbelief as this has never happened in recent history. However after some reflection, I must say that I admire the courage and humility the Holy Father has shown in making this decision.

“It is never easy for anyone, including the Pope, to accept and acknowledge personal physical limitations. What Pope Benedict XVI has done is an expression of utmost love for the Church.”

Fr Jude Miranda

Fr Jude Miranda, priest in Taiping

“The announcement of the resignation of the Holy Father came as a surprise to all of us, but after much thought and reflection, I see it as a wise and courageous move on the part of the Holy Father.

“It would have been a very difficult decision to make but with the help and grace of the Holy Spirit and the common good of the universal church, the Holy Father thought less of himself then to hold on to power.”

Related article in the Catholic Herald:  Malaysian Bishops reaction