.- The bishops of Latin America have voiced admiration for Pope Benedict XVI, calling his decision to resign from the papacy both courageous and humble.
Pope Benedict “has been a Pontiff who understood how to guide the Church in times of crisis with prudence, humility and strength,” said Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City.
He commended the Holy Father for “always seeing problems in the light of the faith and with the hope that in the end good triumphs and not evil.”
The Pope has “led us to return with strength to the faith and the truths in which the Church has always believed, amidst a world that makes everything relative,” the cardinal continued.
“He has taught us that we Christians have firm and absolute values upon which our lives and our faith are cemented, and that only in affirming and living out these truths is the truth about man, his present and his future, found.”
Cardinal Rivera was one of several Latin American prelates who voiced gratitude and promised prayers after Pope Benedict announced on Feb. 11 that he would be retiring at the end of the month due to declining strength.
“Only a great love for Jesus Christ, for his Church, and great humility, could inspire such a step,” said Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana, Cuba.
Msgr. Jose Felix Perez, executive secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Cuba, agreed, saying that the Pope’s resignation is characteristic “of an intelligent man who does not cling to power, like many unfortunately do.”
The president of the Colombian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, said that he was “profoundly distressed and very sad” by the resignation, which he described as courageous and honest.
He underscored “the immense heritage” that Benedict XVI has left behind in the area of Church doctrine.
Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian of Guatemala City also voiced sadness, explaining “a great Pope is leaving, but we should continue with prayer in order to continue with unity.”
He called the Holy Father “a man of God whom I admire for his firmness in the faith, his profound love for the truth and his total devotion to the Church.”
“It is a very luminous time, it’s a great lesson,” commented Archbishop Diego Padron, president of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference.
He explained that Pope Benedict never sought “power for the sake of power.”
“The Pope is very human, he has acknowledged that he doesn’t have the physical strength, and he has humbly stepped down,” the archbishop observed. “He is a good example.”
Archbishop Juan Antonio Ugarte Perez of Cusco, Peru expressed gratitude for “an extraordinarily gifted man who has offered all of his strength to the universal Church until he was exhausted and unable to go on.”
“He has had the humility to recognize his weakness and to resign,” he said.