Czech Catholics praise Pope’s “courageous” decision to resign
The news of Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down has surprised the world. Here in the Czech Republic, church leaders have praised his courage and recalled his visit to the country in 2009. However, Pope Benedict’s retirement for health reasons raises questions over whether his successor will attend a huge Catholic celebration in Velehrad planned for later this year.
Reacting to Pope Benedict’s announced resignation on Monday, the head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka praised his interest in the country.
“On behalf of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, I would like to personally thank the Pope for his resolute courage. I also want to thank him for his visit to the Czech Republic and for his interest in the Czech Catholic Church and life in the Czech Republic, which he displayed on many occasions and during our encounters with him.”
The Papal Conclave, a body of all the cardinals in the Catholic Church, will choose a successor sometime between Benedict’s resignation on February 28 and Easter, which this year falls in early April. The Archbishop Emeritus of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, took part in the last conclave in Rome eight years ago. This time, says Monsignore Vlk, the choice will be more difficult.
“I think it will be harder than when we were choosing the successor to John Paul II. At least the way I see it, there is no one outstanding or extraordinary personality, although there are many distinguished cardinals. So it will be a difficult task to choose someone from this group.”
“It remains our wish but it hard to say what the situation will be with the new pope. We will have to leave this to our Lord; if people pray and plead for the visit, it might happen. But right now, I cannot really promise anything.”