German Chancellor Voices Respect for Pope's Decision to ResignWorld | February 11, 2013, Monday // 16:14| views
German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a statement about the announced resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 11 February 2013. Photo by EPA/BGNES
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to resign ought to be given "the absolute highest respect".
Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria in 1927, announced Monday that he would resign on February 28, for health reasons, after serving for almost eight years.
Benedict XVI was one of the oldest new popes in history when he was elected in 2005.
Commenting on the surprise resignation of German-born Pope Benedict XVI, Merkel said that he "had to make a difficult decision."
"If the pope himself, after thorough reflection, has come to the conclusion that he doesn't have the strength anymore to carry out his duties, then this has my utmost respect," the German Chancellor stated.
She noted that Benedict "is and remains one of the most important religious thinkers of our time".
A conclave is to be held before Easter to elect the new pope, according to an announcement of the Vatican.
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