The Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois Dr Colm O’Reilly has praised the work of Pope Benedict whose surprise resignation was announced on Monday.
The 85-year-old pontiff is stepping aside for health reasons.
“I thought the words from Cardinal Brady were very appropriate in that this (resignation) was the act of a very humble man. It’s rare in any organisation to step down so from that point of view it is very impressive,” Dr O’Reilly told the Leader on Tuesday morning.
Pointing to Pope Benedict’s numerous spiritual writings, Dr O’Reilly also reserved special praise for the way he handled controversies surrounding the Church’s clerical child sex abuse scandals.
“You have to remember the impact on the Church at a time when things were under stress and when there was tension because of the abuse crisis. I feel it would be hard to fault him for the way he handled that,” added Dr O’Reilly.
On the topic of how history might look back on Pope Benedict’s eight year tenure, Dr O’Reilly brushed aside recent scandals and defections, instead pointing to the largely favourable comments made by other Church leaders.
He also spoke of increasing talk that cardinals might look to the developing world for a new pope where Catholic numbers are increasing live and where the Church is continuing to grow.
“Some people are speculating that the new pope perhaps could come from Africa or Brazil. These things are possible and it would certainly bring a new enthusiasm to the Church,” he said.
Bishop O’Reilly admitted he does not know what his own future holds following the surprise resignation of the Pope on Monday.
Bishop O’Reilly said he remained very much in the dark as to when his own successor might be named, despite having handed in his resignation three years ago.
“There has to be a new pope in place so I don’t know anything at this stage. I presume a new pope will be elected in March and the systems will the start operating again, but there is no point in going into a panic over it,” he said.
Bishop O’Reilly did however indicate his desire for a more youthful successor to be named in his place.
“I would prefer someone who had more energy to take the reins. If I lived to see the Cathedral restored I would be very happy, so please God that will happen,” he said.