GENEVA –The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has received “with surprise” today the news that Pope Benedict XVI intends to resign as head of the Roman Catholic Church on 28 February 2013.
A statement by Vatican Radio today said the pope had announced his intended resignation as his “strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”
Speaking to Lutheran World Information (LWI), LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge said they offer their prayers for the pope and the Catholic Church during this time. They expressed their deep appreciation for Benedict’s commitment to the search for the unity of the church and his support to ongoing ecumenical dialogues.
Younan and Junge underlined the 50 years of dialogue between the LWF and the Vatican as an enriching mutual journey which Pope Benedict has strongly supported.
They recalled the pontiff’s discussions with LWF leaders during a private audience at the Vatican in December 2010, at which Pope Benedict expressed gratitude for “the many significant fruits produced” by decades of bilateral discussions between Lutherans and Roman Catholics.
Benedict, 85, became pope in 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul II.