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Schönborn surprised about pope’s resignation

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn called the surprising resignation of Pope Benedict XVI an "historical event for the world". He has not suspected a resignation and is apparently "very concerned".

"I am naturally very concerned and very touched by his completely conscious decision", said Mr Schönborn to the ORF. "I saw him last Thursday but he did not show any signs that he would resign.

The cardinal said that it was an "impressing, strong and clear decision made due to a huge sense of responsibility." It can only be "perceived and accepted with respect".

Schönborn was, however, convinced that the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. was a personal decision and that it was thus no "precedent case".

"The burden of a pope office" would be enormous, said the cardinal. It involves public appointments, paper work, decisions and giving advice. The work would demand a lot from the 86-year-old pope. Benedict is, however, still "mentally fit" and "performs his tasks with an admiring mental and spiritual clarity and depth."

At the same time it has become clear that the pope’s body strength is fading away. In his resignation he wrote: "In order to navigate Peter’s ship and to preach the gospel, both the strength of the body and the spirit are important."

Cardinal Schönborn said one could summarize Benedict XVI.’s papacy with the motto "Reflection of the essential". He also acknowledges how the pope approached the issue of abuse and that he provided a brave impetus on how to deal with secularization.

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