Vatican No. 2 says resignation a matter for Pope's conscience
After asking prayers for a hospitalised Pope John Paul II, the Vatican's No. 2 official - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State (pictured) - said the question of eventual papal resignation was something that must be left to "the pope's conscience."
"Let's leave this to the pope's conscience. If there is a man in the church who is guided by the Holy Spirit, if there is a man who loves the church, if there is a man with marvelous wisdom, it's the pope," the cardinal told reporters yesterday.
"We have to have enormous trust in him. He knows what he should do," the cardinal added.
Catholic News Service reports that Cardinal Sodano's remarks were "somewhat unusual", since most Vatican officials refuse to even discuss the possibility of papal resignation.
Cardinal Sodano did not say resignation was an active hypothesis for the Pope, who was being treated for respiratory problems in a Rome hospital. In fact, only a few minutes earlier, the cardinal had expressed the hope that Pope John Paul's pontificate would run longer than that of Pope Pius IX, who ruled for more than 31 years.
"In his 26 years of papacy, the pope has left us a luminous teaching legacy. Let us pray that this teaching continues for many years. Pope Pius IX governed the church for 32 years, and let us pray that John Paul II passes that mark," he said.
The cardinal went on to note that Pope Leo XII lived to the age of 93 a century ago. He asked prayers that "the Lord may grant a long life to the Holy Father, and that he grant him serenity."
Cardinal Sodano was inaugurating a remodeled Vatican bookstore, which was named after Pope John Paul.
The cardinal has been visiting the 84-year-old pontiff at Rome's Gemelli Hospital and is the man who coordinates Vatican affairs in the pope's absence.
Vatican's No. 2 says decision to resign would be up to pope (Catholic News Service 7/2/05)
Vatican Secretariat of State
Angelo Cardinal Sodano (catholic-hierarchy.org)
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8 Feb 2005