Madrid, Spain, Feb 14, 2013 / 12:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The secretary general of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference defended Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign and said that the Holy Spirit will choose a new shepherd to govern God’s people.
The Holy Father made his decision to retire “in full conscience and freedom,” which are the necessary conditions for resigning according to the Code of Canon Law, said Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino.
He stressed that Pope Benedict’s decision to step down at the end of February was not due to problems facing the Church, but because he lacks the physical strength to carry out the papal ministry.
Speaking on Spanish radio, the bishop assured the faithful that the Holy Spirit will inspire the cardinals charged with electing the next Pope, ensuring that the person chosen is the one the Lord wants to guide his Church.
Commenting on the current state of the Church, Bishop Martinez Camino said the biggest contemporary adversary is that God has been forgotten and relativism has spread throughout the culture.
These challenges, he said, demand “all the energies of a Pope.”
While the bishop was surprised by Pope Benedict’s announcement, he believes that the pontiff has given “sufficient” explanation for his decision to retire.
“As far as I know, we had no idea in Spain that the Holy Father was going to announce his resignation,” he said.
However, such an announcement is not “absolutely unthinkable” or “strange,” he continued, as the Pope had already hinted at such a possibility in his interview with Peter Seewald for the book “Light of the World.”
Bishop Martinez Camino said that when Pope Benedict made his plans for retirement public, he referenced a lack of “physical strength and adequate frame of mind” to carry out his ministry effectively.
These characteristics are particularly important, he observed, in “a world of rapid changes” with many “great problems that affect the life of the faith.”
The bishop also believes that while the Holy Father is retiring due to waning strength, he greatly respects the choice of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, to remain in office until his death.
“The Pope said that considering the spiritual essence of the ministry of Peter, there is no doubt that this service is given not only in word and deed but also, and no less so, in suffering and in prayer,” he reflected.
“I believe that was an immediate allusion to the great example that John Paul II gave to the world,” he said. “In that way he was honoring him.”