ONE of the country’s most senior bishops has expressed surprise at the shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI this morning.
Bishop of Elphin, Christopher Jones, said the move was practically unheard of in the Catholic Church, with just one incident in its long history.
His comments came after it emerged the pontiff was the first to resign in nearly 600 years, with the move taking Vatican aides by surprise.
The 85-year old said he no longer had the strength to continue in office, and would resign on February 28 next.
A conclave made up of cardinals will elect a new pope before the end of March.
Speaking at the launch of Accord’s 2012 figures on the numbers seeking marriage guidance counselling, the Bishop said he had the “highest respect” for Pope Benedict.
“I would naturally (be surprised) because it hasn’t happened accept once maybe in the history of the church,” he said. “I would be very surprised. Nevertheless I would have the highest respect for this present pope and would respect whatever decision he makes.
“Obviously I cannot react to news in the media, I would have to have confirmation of it.”
He added that the first he heard of the story was through the media.