THE EDITOR, Sir:
On Monday, February 13, 2013, the Catholic Church around the world received the surprising news of the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to relinquish the office of Bishop of Rome at the end of this month.
We the bishops of the Archdiocese of Kingston, the dioceses of Mandeville and Montego Bay, and the people within these dioceses received the news with mixed reaction. There is no doubt that his warm and peaceful personality, his deep spirituality, his excellent teaching skills and his ability to clarify complex issues will be missed in the life of the Church.
Yet, on the other hand, we understand that his declining physical health poses a serious obstacle in the effective execution of the ministry of the Chair of St Peter. We believe that his decision has come as a result of a period of discernment which involved prayer and consultation.
We give praise and thanks to God for the ministry of Benedict XVl, and we anticipate that during this Year of Faith, the Holy Spirit will guide the Church in selecting a suitable successor. We pray that even with his frail health, he will continue to contribute to the life of the Universal Church.
As the Catholic Church prepares for the election of the next successor of St Peter, we invite everyone to pray for guidance during the season of Lent. May his successor be filled with courage, wisdom and fortitude.
CHARLES DUFOUR (CD)
Archbishop of Kingston