Korean Catholic group thanks the pope for service

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Korean Catholic group thanks the pope for service

At the unexpected announcement Monday by Pope Benedict XVI, who took office at age 78 in 2005 following the death of his predecessor, that he would resign on Feb. 28, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea released a statement yesterday thanking him for his service.

“We cannot hide our surprise at the pope’s abrupt decision to step down,” said Rev. Peter Kang U-il in a video-taped message. “But we know the pope’s heart is filled with love and care for the church and we accept his brave and spiritual decision with great respect.”

The bishop of Jeju and head of the group representing Korean bishops added he deeply thanked the outgoing pope for his “prayers and support for Korea and Catholic churches” here.

“He also has shown deep interest for people in North Korea and sought to help them through economic aid,” Kang said in the video shown yesterday at the group’s office in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul.

Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, broke 600-year-old tradition Monday by expressing his intention to resign at the end of the month from his post, the first pope to do so since 1415.

The outgoing pope said in a statement released in several languages that “having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of the pontiff.

“The pope has shown a groundbreaking action by exercising his right to tender his resignation as a pope under the legal principles of the church,” said Priest Lee Kyung-sang of the Archdiocese of Seoul, who teaches church law at the Catholic University of Korea. “People have a conservative image of Pope Benedict XVI. But through his resignation announcement, I believe he has shown a liberal and reformist mind.”

By Kang Jin-kyu, Shin June-bong [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]
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