MANILA: Filipino Catholic Church leaders and the faithful on Tuesday expressed shock and regret over the announcement of Pope Benedict XV1 to resign with effect on Feb. 28 mainly due to advanced age and poor health.
Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle of Manila who was elevated by the Pope as “Prince of the Church” only last November, said he was shocked and saddened by the pontiff’s decision.
Tagle, in his 50s and also considered a “papabili” or a potential pope, was to join the plus 110 cardinals who were to meet in Vatican a week after Benedict’s resignation was to take effect to choose his successor.
In a separate statement, Malacanang Palace joined Tagle in expressing shock and regret over the pope’s decision, saying: “Not only the Catholic world but all peoples and nations of goodwill are filled with great regret as news comes of Pope Benedict XV1 announced his intention to relinquish the ‘Petrine Ministry’ on Feb. 28.”
The pope’ announcement came at a time when senior Philippine Catholic Church leaders came under fire from two Jesuit priests and scholars who accused them of being “theological bullies” especially to those who supported the controversial family planning law.
Such bullying, the priests warned, has been driving away the faithful from the Catholic church.
The law mandates the government to purchase contraceptives especially the pill and condom for distribution to poor couples who want to plan to limit the number of their children.