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Archbishop Martin relaying his reaction to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI at his Drumcondra palace. Christopher McKinley

Archbishop Martin: It's amazing the pope had continued until now

The Archbishop of Dublin notes that it had been clear that Benedict XVI’s health had been in decline for the past month.

THE ARCHBISHOP OF Dublin has said that the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was a surprise even though there were indications that his health was diminishing.

“It’s amazing that he has continued with a full schedule up until now,” said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. “Although it’s very clear over the last month or so his health was declining.”

“He had said on a number of occasions that if he felt his physical, spiritual and mental health were a problem [for] him carrying out his duties he would consider resigning.

Archbishop Martin said that he was an extraordinarily rounded person and there were many different aspects to his personality.

Both Archbishop Martin and Cardinal Brady met with Pope Benedict regarding Ireland’s sex abuse scandals.

“The attitude of the Vatican changed significantly under his pontificate. They took a much stronger line in relation to these issues,” he said. “He was very interested in Ireland.”

Describing a meeting with the Pope to discuss Ireland Archbishop Martin said the pope asked him where are the points of contact between the Catholic Church in Ireland and those places where the future of Irish culture is being formed.

“It was the sort of question actually that the Church in Ireland should be consistently asking itself,” he said.

A photograph of Archbishop Martin and Pope Benedict XVI as displayed in the Archbishop’s office in Drumcondra. Pic © Christopher McKinley

Archbishop Martin said did not speculate who the Pope’s successor will be however he did say that Cardinals don’t tend to appoint a ‘clone’ successor. “Very often it’s anything but,” he said.

“Since Pope Paul VI there [has been] a period of over three weeks between the death or… resignation of a Pope and the election of a successor,” he said. “And that’s the time when the real work of reflecting begins on who the next pope is. It’s not a political election.”

Archbishop Martin urged people to pray for Pope Benedict and noted that there were probably very few who knew about his ‘courageous’ decision. He also said that Cardinal Brady, who has a vote for appointing the next Pope, may consult with higher members of the Church’s hierarchy however the he noted that he was “a Cardinal in his own right”.

Listen to Archbishop Martin speaking about his admiration for Benedict XVI (click here if audio is not working on site):

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