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Tributes paid to 'humble' pope

Published 11/02/2013

Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he is to resign on February 28, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he is to resign on February 28, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he leaves after celebrating a mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican (AP)
Pope Benedict XVI and Mercedes Benz CEO Dieter Zetsche walk past the new popemobile at the Vatican (AP/L'Osservatore Romano)
Pope Benedict XVI waves from the popemobile as is being driven after his arrival in Santiago de Cuba Monday March 26, 2012.(AP Photo/Desmond Boylan,Pool)
Pope Benedict XVI waves after celebrating a Mass in Bresso (AP)
SANTIAGO DE CUBA, CUBA - MARCH 26: Spectators look at a billboard showing the image of Cuba's revolution leader Fidel Castro, during the Mass of Pope Benedict XVI, on March 26, 2012 in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Fourteen years after Pope John Paul II visited Cuba, Pope Benedict is making his first trip to the communist country. (Photo by Sven Creutzmann/Getty Images)
A crowd attend a mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at the Revolution Square in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Monday, March, 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Prensa Latina)
Cubans wave and cheer as Pope Benedict XVI, not seen, is being driven along the streets of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Monday March 26, 2012.(AP Photo/Desmond Boylan,Pool)
The Taoiseach said the pontiff's decision to leave his role was historic

Cardinal Sean Brady has led tributes to Pope Benedict XVI on his retirement, describing his decision to step down as humble and responsible.

The Catholic Primate of All-Ireland joined religious and political figures in praising the Pontiff's eight-year tenure.

"I think it is a profound act of humility, a conscientious and responsible decision to hand over the ministry of the successor of Peter at a time of great challenge in the church and for faith in the modern world," he said.

Pope Benedict, 85, will leave on February 28. He is the first Pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years and the decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new Pope before the end of March.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said the Pope's decision to resign was courageous. "Who knows how long he has to live? Only himself and his advisers know that," Archbishop Martin said. "But to do this, shows he has that interior freedom within himself."

He also praised the freedom Pope Benedict showed in speaking out against the "filth" in the Catholic Church regarding sex abuse scandals.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and President Michael D Higgins also paid tribute.

"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," Mr Kenny said. "This is clearly a decision which the Holy Father has taken following careful consideration and deep prayer and reflection.

Mr Higgins said he had written to the Pope expressing his good wishes on his decision to retire.

"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," the president's office said in a statement.

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