Swiss bishops say a letter written by Swiss intellectuals and theologians, calling on the Pope to retire, “disgusting” and "tasteless.” Yesterday, the bishops dismissed the suggestion that the Pope should retire, calling it "absurd."
The letter, signed by more than 40 Catholic theologians, priests and lay people, praised John Paul's papacy for "moving the world" but suggests that the pontiff should respect the retirement age of 75 set for bishops.
The letter was intentionally released May 14 in order to coincide with the Pope’s 84th birthday, May 18, and with his visit to Switzerland in less than three weeks.
Bishop Kurt Koch said the decision to publish the letter as the Pope celebrated his birthday was "disgusting and disloyal."
Marc Aellen, spokesman for the Swiss Bishops Conference, said it was "extremely upsetting that people should use the arrival of the Pope to make such a comment.”
Aellen said the letter “is not characteristic of the greeting which Switzerland is preparing for him," reported Swissinfo.
The Pope, who has Parkinson’s disease and arthritis, will make his first visit abroad in six months when he comes to Switzerland for a youth gathering June 5-6. This will be his first visit to Switzerland in 20 years.