Swiss bishops denounce calls for papal retirement
The Bishops of Switzerland have issued a statement to express their disappointment with an open letter calling for Pope John Paul II to stand down and written just weeks before the Holy Father is due to visit their country.
The publication of the letter - signed by more than 40 Catholic priests and lay people - coincided with the Pope's 84th birthday on Tuesday.
One Swiss 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".
The letter "is not characteristic of the greeting which Switzerland is preparing for him," Aellen added.
The letter, which was delivered to the Bishops Conference on Friday, was signed by priests, theology professors, and Catholic lay people.
One of the signatories was Xavier Pfister, information officer for the Catholic Church in Basel. In an interview with swissinfo on Tuesday, Pfister said the Pope had done important work.
"We say that in the letter. We're not saying he's not a good Pope," Pfister said. "But as his age increases and his health deteriorates, his abilities are increasingly in doubt and the Pope is in some ways less credible. And we think it's important to tell him that, so that he gives some thought to standing down."
Swiss bishops denounce calls for Pope to retire (Swissinfo 18/5/04)
John Paul II Marks His Birthday With a Day of Work (Zenit 18/5/04)
New book by John Paul II expected to be best-seller (Catholic World News 19/5/04)
Pope hopes to take Alpine vacation in July (Catholic World News 19/5/04)
Confession, forgiveness are focus of papal audience (Catholic World News 19/5/04)
SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION: THE JOY OF BEING FORGIVEN (Vatican Information Service 19/5/04)
POPE RECALLS 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF BATTLE OF MONTE CASSINO (Vatican Information Service 19/5/04)
20 May 2004