President Goodluck Jonathan has applauded the exemplary wisdom and courage displayed by Pope Benedict XVI in his decision to voluntarily relinquish the Papacy because of his advanced age and growing inability to keep up with the physical and mental demands of the office.
Similarly, the Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Most Rev. Felix Femi Ajakaye, also Tuesday urged Nigerian leaders to learn lessons from the resignation of the Pope on account of ill-health.
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The Pope had in a letter dated February 11, told the College of Cardinals of his plan to resign by 8 p.m. (Rome time) on February 28, 2013, on health and age grounds.
Benedict XVl ascended the throne in 2005 at the age of 78 and will clock 86 years by April this year.
In a statement by the President's Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, it was said: "On behalf of himself, the Federal Government and people of Nigeria, President Jonathan wishes the Pope a very peaceful and restful retirement at the end of this month."
President Jonathan said he was confident "that even in retirement, Pope Benedict XVI will continue to contribute to the spiritual well-being of the world in every possible way and that he will continue to offer prayers to God Almighty for global justice, equity, peace and progress."
He prayed that as the College of Cardinals, an advisory body that is also responsible for the selection of a pope’s successor, prepare to assemble in the Vatican to elect a new Pope, God Almighty will grant them the wisdom and divine insight they will require to bring forth a worthy successor "who will build on the outgoing Pontiff's commendable achievements as head of the Worldwide Catholic Church."
Meanwhile, Ajakaye, who was reacting on the development, said the Pope's action was in line with Section 332, Paragraph 2 of the Cannon Law, which was the supreme law of the church.
He said when one knows that he could no longer continue in office on account of ill-health or otherwise, it was important to resign from such position.
According to him, "It is lessons to all of us that we should let go when we know that we cannot continue. He has said that due to old age I cannot continue with the rigours of old age, so having studied himself he decided to take a noble action."
Ajakaye said the resignation of Benedict XVI should not be regarded as a surprise saying the laws of the Catholic Church (Cannon Law), allows it.
The cleric recalled that Benedict XVl was not the first Pope that would resign from office, adding that the late Pope Gregory the 12th also resigned in 1145.
He dismissed insinuation that the Pope's planned resignation would cause vacuum or crisis, saying the church, since inception, had put in place succession arrangement on how a new Pope was elected by the College of Cardinals.
Also, the cleric has asked Christians to do away with all negative tendencies during and after the Lenten season which begins with the Ash Wednesday today.
According to him, such negative tendencies are kidnapping, fornication/adultery, stealing, corruption among others. Speaking on the significance of the season, Ajakaye said the season should be used by all Nigerians to reflect on our lives spiritually.
He added: "It is also to reflect through fasting, perseverance; alms giving and also to help others, especially the weak among us."
Ajakaye advised all Christians to imbibe the spirit of moderation and multiplication during the season and stressed the need for all to live in unity, saying it was when united that the country could be great.