February 2, 2000
volume 11, no. 23
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Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Calls for Silence Over Papal "Resignation"

    VATICAN CITY, FEB 1 (ZENIT).- For reasons of the "liberty of the Church," but also for reasons of "good manners," it is time to stop talking about the Pope's resignation. This appeal is made in the February 2 issue of "L'Osservatore Romano," following weeks of rumors and conjectures on the Holy Father's state of health in the Italian media.

    Ever since the influential Italian ANSA agency mistranslated statements of Bishop Karl Lehmann, President of the German Bishops' Conference (Cf. ZENIT, January 10, 2000), making it appear that he was leading a call to pressure the Pope into retirement, local papers have been filled with veiled and not-so-veiled statements that the Pope really should resign for health reasons.

    Such a decision belongs strictly to the Pope himself, according to the Vatican newspaper. The fact that the Pope is frail does not mean he is unable to do his work. Therefore, it is both pointless and inopportune to spread suppositions as to who should give evidence on the Pope's "incapacity" to govern the Church.

    This is the first time "L'Osservatore Romano" has taken such a clear position on the debate. "Physical weakness does not mean incapacity or an 'irreversible' and impossible condition. These are distinctions that must be made for clarity of thought and ... to defend papal liberty; moreover, it is better not to formulate suppositions (fortune telling) on who should certify the condition of permanent reduction (another concept that must be clarified) in the ability to communicate," the article states.

    "In theory, one can imagine the Pope's resignation, since this has already occurred in the Church's 2000 years, but it is important to stress the absolute freedom of the Pope to say something like this."

    No one can intervene in a decision of this kind, and less so reporters. "It is a question of 'libertas ecclesiae' [liberty of the Church]", Marchetto writes.

    "We add that there are also considerations that we could define as good manners, in addition to those stemming from the fact one is Catholic, that demand that all this 'buzzing' around the topic now be silenced," continued the article.

    "Can one not give Pope Wojtyla, who has struggled for liberty all his life, the liberty to make decisions without this type of pressure? Moreover, he is the Pope!" the newspaper concluded. ZE00020109


February 2, 2000
volume 11, no. 23

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