MANILA, Feb. 16, 2013— Pope Benedict XVI’s unprecedented move to abdicate may ‘set the tone’ for other leaders of the Catholic Church, an archbishop said.
Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said that for the pope to resign because of advanced age and for good of the Church is like a defining moment for modern Catholicism.
“I feel that the resignation of the Holy Father for reasons of health and old age sets a tone for other cardinals, bishops and even priests,” said Lagdameo.
“What we in the clergy should really think about is the good of the Church even to the point of comparing or even considering who can serve the Church better,” he said.
Benedict XVI, 85, whose papacy began in April 2005, cited health issues as the reason behind his resignation and felt it was proper time to relinquish the post.
It is the first time a pontiff has resigned in nearly 600 years. “It’s historical,” said the former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
According to Lagdameo, the pontiff, who will leave his post at 8pm on Feb. 28, made a “very humble move and an act of freedom on his part”.
“It’s really a kind of an example that may be used by the hierarchy… because it’s not only the Holy Father that goes old and become sick but his very concern is really service of the church,” he added.
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that the conclave to elect the next pope could start between March 15 and 19.
“If everything goes normally, it could be envisioned that the conclave begins between 15 and 19 March,” Lombardi said.
The Vatican official said he could not give an exact date as of the moment because it falls to the cardinals to determine it.
A total of 117 cardinals, including Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, will be eligible to elect the successor of Benedict XVI.
Only the cardinals who are below the age of 80 can participate in the conclave, which means that Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, 80, and Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, 82, can no longer vote.
Under the rules, the conclave must achieve a two-thirds majority to elect the new pope. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)