World reacts to resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
BERLIN/ JERUSALEM/ PARIS / LONDON
A file picture taken on April 20, 2008 shows Pope Benedict XVI praying during mass at the Yankee Stadium in New York. AFP PhotoPope Benedict XVI "will be missed as a spiritual leader to millions", British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday following the pontiff's shock resignation, AFP has reported.
"I send my best wishes to Pope Benedict following his announcement today. He has worked tirelessly to strengthen Britain's relations with the Holy See," Cameron said in a statement.
Israeli chief rabbi Yona Metzger on Monday praised Pope Benedict's inter-religious outreach and said relations between Israel and the Vatican had never been better, Reuters has reported.
"During his period (as pope) there were the best relations ever between the church and the chief rabbinate and we hope that this trend will continue," a spokesman quoted Metzger as saying after the pope announced he would resign. "I think he deserves a lot of credit for advancing inter-religious links the world over between Judaism, Christianity and Islam." Metzger wished the pope "good health and long days", the spokesman said.
Hollande says pope's decision to step down worthy of respect
French President Francois Hollande Monday hailed Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign due to old age as one worthy of respect, AFP has reported.
"I have no special comment to make on this decision which is eminently respectable," Hollande said, adding that France "hails the pope who took this decision."
Germany expresses 'respect', 'gratitude' for pope
A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the German-born pope deserved "respect" and "gratitude" for his nearly eight years as pontiff after he announced he was to step down, AFP has reported.
"The federal government has the greatest possible respect for the Holy Father, for his accomplishments, for his life-long work for the Catholic Church," said Steffen Seibert, adding the pontiff also deserved "gratitude".
"As a Christian and as a Catholic, one reacts with emotion and dismay," added Seibert in a regular government news conference.
He said Benedict XVI had left his "very personal mark" on the Church, "both as a thinker and a shepherd" to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
"Whatever the reasons may be for this declaration, they should be honoured and respected and he deserves gratitude for leading this world church for eight years in such a way," concluded Seibert.
Merkel, herself the daughter of a pastor, would speak on the issue at 1330 GMT, her office announced.
Benedict, who earlier Monday announced his intention to resign this month, was born Joseph Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, in the predominantly Catholic southern German region of Bavaria.
He was ordained priest at the same time as his older brother Georg in 1951, and began teaching theology at Freising College in 1958.
Ratzinger went on from there to teach at several other German universities, notably in Bonn, Muenster and Regensburg.
Cameron: Pope "will be missed
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, where Catholics are in a minority to Anglicans, said the pope "will be missed as a spiritual leader to millions".
"He has worked tirelessly to strengthen Britain's relations with the Holy See," Cameron said in a statement.
Russia: There is no reason to expect radical changes
A spokesman for the foreign affairs department of the Russian Orthodox Church said he did not anticipate any major change of course as a result of the pope's resignation.
"There is no reason to expect radical changes in the Vatican's policy or its attitude towards orthodox churches," Russian agency Interfax quoted Dimitri Sizonenko as saying.
The pope has taken part in 24 official trips abroad since assuming the office in 2005, according to the Vatican website, as far afield as Mexico, Benin, Sydney and Brazil.