Warwick parishioner Rita McIvor
Warwick parishioner Rita McIvor Shannon Newley

Pope's resignation supported

IT HAS been nearly 600 years since a pope has resigned and Warwick parishioner Rita McIvor believes he's made the right decision.

Pope Benedict XVI announced his shock resignation yesterday.

"I admire him for retiring when he feels he can't cope," Mrs McIvor said.

"It is very difficult to walk away from something when you have power.

"He has definitely made the right decision," she said.

Mrs McIvor, who has been involved in the Killarney/Yangan parish her entire life, said the church is up against a lot.

"It's hard to keep building the church because we live in such a secular world," she said.

"The faithfuls don't seem to be as faithful as they used to be.

"And the sexual abuse allegations are causing agony for the good priests and bishops," she said.

Self-proclaimed atheist Julia Gillard has paid tribute to Pope Benedict XVI.

Ms Gillard spoke about the "remarkable news" during a statement to the House of Representatives before question time yesterday.

She described Pope Benedict's decision to stand down was a "genuinely historic moment".

"Many Australians saw Pope Benedict during his visit here for the Church's World Youth Day in 2008, and I'm sure many members remember the scenes and the crowds on that visit," Ms Gillard said.

"Thousands of others travelled to Rome in 2010 to see him declare Mother Mary MacKillop as our nation's first saint, Saint Mary of the Cross. And that was a time of jubilation across the nation. They will miss him."

Ms Gillard also used the occasion to speak about the "enormous contribution" the Catholic Church has made to "every field of life in Australia".

"But our thoughts naturally turn to the contribution in school education, health care and relief for the most disadvantaged in our society," she said.

"Whoever is elected to take Pope Benedict's place, the Catholic Church will remain one of the most important human institutions, containing within it all the strengths and faults of its hundreds of millions of believers; one facing all the challenges of the modern world.

"My thoughts today are with Australia's Catholic community as they prepare for Ash Wednesday tomorrow and the season of Lent, and as they live through what is an historic coming few weeks."

Pope Benedict, 85, cited age and failing health for his decision to stand down after almost eight years in the job.

Senior cardinals will meet at the Vatican soon to choose a successor.

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