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Papacy : 20 days to replace Benedict XVI

When Pope Benedict XVI officially tables his resignation letter on February 28, 2013, cardinals of the church across the world have at least 15 and at most 20 days to converge on the Vatican and elect a new shepherd.

The afore-mentioned is the provision of paragraph 02 of Canon 332 of the Canon law. It says “the pope is free to resign from his duty when he feels either physically, spiritually or psychologically unfit to continue to continue his papal mission.” All cardinals of the church are mandated to be there except those whose incapacity has been established. But the cardinals should not be older than 80.During this period between the resignation and the election of a new pope, (sede vacante or vacant seat), the cardinals would ensure the interim day to day running of the Holy seat. Like it is the tradition, the cardinals will take oaths on the Bible to keep secret all what they would do in the upper room. Benedict XIV will be quitting the stage after 08 years of papacy. He was elected Pope following the death of John Paul II on April 02, 2005.It is worth recalling that Benedict XVI is not the first pope to resign. Some 600 years ago Pope Celestine V threw in the towel barely few months after his election. He could not bear the weight of the papal function and resigned.His 08 years of stewardship at the helm of the universal church according to the apostolic nuncio (messenger or ambassador) to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea with residence in Yaoundé, Mgr Piero Pioppio “were very illuminating. He is leaving the church with a marvellous document, the theological biography of Jesus Christ.” And particularly for us Cameroon as a country, “we can boast of three new bishops he enriched us with and also created a diocese in Bafang, West region,” the Nuncio added. As to whether Pope Benedict XVI’s decision would not demoralise Christians and by extension weaken the church, Mgr Befe Ateba, Bishop of Kribi diocese said, “the decision is instead salutary. It was a good thing for him to honestly and humbly admit his inability to continue shepherding the church at a time when his age was weighing heavily on him. More so, the church requires a more energetic leader as he said to take the relay so to ensure efficient leadership.” Mgr Ateba adds that there hasn’t been a better theologian in the church than Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) during the past two decades. For his part the president of the national Episcopal conference of Cameroon, Mgr Joseph Atanga, “the church is in God’s hands. Let’s instead be calm and prayerful.” He adds that it is a courageous and respectable decision that the pope has taken. And that it is incumbent on Christians now to pray that God guides the church through the transition as well cater for incoming. Christians, he urged should also pray for peaceful and successful conduct of the conclave. Benedict XVI will be 85 in two months, the age at which his predecessor passed away. His memories remain vivid in the minds of Cameroonians who had the privileged to host him in Cameroon for three days in 2009.He came to launch the “instrumentum elaboris” which would help guide Christians in enculturation in the church.

Benedict Ndinwa

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