Responding to the news, Father David Bagstaff,
Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of East Anglia,
which includes Norfolk
, said: “I share the sense of shock and surprise that so many people are experiencing at the news.
“In this decision I see his deep love for the Church that he has served so faithfully throughout his life in many different roles. He, above all people, will be aware of the physical, mental and spiritual strength needed to fulfil the role of the Successor of St. Peter and so he will also be the best person to judge whether or not those demands are now too great for him.
“Whilst the powerful witness of his predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II
in his suffering in the latter part of his life is acknowledged and applauded, so too we can applaud this courageous decision of Pope Benedict. He lays aside one particular role for the good of the Church and embraces a new role in which he continues to serve through a life dedicated to prayer.
“We all remember his visit to the United Kingdom
in September 2010, during which he touched the hearts of many, not just Catholics, but Christians of other denominations, people of other faiths and none, by his humility, compassion and obvious care as a pastor. His commitment to preach the Gospel is clear in his many teaching documents and in the three books that have been published by him, helping us to know and understand the person of Jesus more clearly.
“Our prayers are with him and also with those who will be involved in the process of electing his successor. We trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the Church and ask Our Lady of Walsingham
to pray for us and with us,” said Father Bagstaff.
Father David has been in charge of the Diocese, which covers the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire
and the unitary authority of Peterborough
since the death of Bishop Michael Evans
in July 2011, while a new bishop is appointed.
Responding to the news, the Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich
, told the EDP:
“Pope Benedict has surprised the whole Christian world by the announcement of his resignation. He will be remembered as an eminent scholar, quietly determined to proclaim the good news of Christ. His visit to England in 2010 will long remain in my memory, especially the great service in Westminster Abbey.”
Pictured above is Pope Benedict XVI, picture by M.Mazur/www.thepapalvisit.org.uk