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Taoiseach extends 'best wishes' to Pope, President writes Pontiff a letter

Enda Kenny clashed with the Catholic Church in the last two years, slamming the “the dysfunction, the disconnection, the elitism that dominates the Vatican today” after the Cloyne report in 2011.

Image: David Jones/PA Wire/Press Association Images

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has sent his best wishes to Pope Benedict XVI following the Pontiff’s shock resignation earlier today.

Kenny said that it was clearly a decision that the Pope had taken “following careful consideration and deep prayer and reflection” and said it was a “historic day” in the life of the Catholic Church.

President Michael D Higgins has written to the Pope to “acknowledge the scholarship and personal commitment” that he has brought to the leadership of the Catholic Church, according to a statement.

“Pope Benedict has given strong leadership and great service to the Church and her people for many decades,” the Taoiseach said.

“I know that all of their thoughts and prayers will be with the Holy Father at this time, and also with those who will shortly gather in Conclave to choose his successor.”

Kenny famously clashed with the Vatican in July 2011 when he slammed the “the dysfunction, the disconnection, the elitism that dominates the Vatican today” in a speech on the publication of the Cloyne report into how allegations of sexual abuse were dealt with in the Cork diocese.

The Vatican disputed much of the unprecedented denunciation of the Catholic Church’s highest authority and said that some of Kenny’s claims during the course of his speech were “unfounded”.

The current Irish government has also caused considerable controversy with the decision to close the Irish embassy in the Vatican which has caused division among the more conservative members of the coalition government.

There had been hopes that Pope Benedict XVI would visit Ireland particularly in the aftermath of country’s hosting of the Eucharistic Congress in June last year but his resignation today puts an end to hopes of a visit from the 265th Pontiff.

The Taoiseach’s statement in full:

On behalf of the Government and people of Ireland, I would like to extend best wishes to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI following his declaration today that he intends to step down from his office.

This is clearly a decision which the Holy Father has taken following careful consideration and deep prayer and reflection.

It reflects his profound sense of duty to the Church, and also his deep appreciation of the unique pressures of spiritual leadership in the modern world.

This is a historic day in the life of the Catholic Church and for the many millions of Catholics, both here in Ireland and around the world.

Pope Benedict has given strong leadership and great service to the Church and her people for many decades.

I know that all of their thoughts and prayers will be with the Holy Father at this time, and also with those who will shortly gather in Conclave to choose his successor.

A statement from Áras an Uachtaráin:

President Michael D. Higgins has written to Pope Benedict XVI, Head of State of the Holy See, to express his good wishes on the occasion of the Pope’s decision to retire from office for the reasons which he has outlined earlier today.

In his letter, President Higgins acknowledged the scholarship and personal commitment that Pope Benedict brought to his leadership of the Roman Catholic community over the past eight years and wished him every peace and fulfilment in his retirement.

In pictures: From Cardinal Ratzinger to Pope Benedict XVI

Read: Incredulity, shock and humility – The world reacts to Pope Benedict’s resignation

Pope’s brother: Pontiff was ‘considering resignation for months’

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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