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Asian leaders hail Pope Benedict’s work for peace, harmony

Cardinal Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon, hailed Pope Benedict XVI for his great contributions to the church and the world.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI attends a papal mass for elderly people at St Peter's square on September 28, 2014 at the Vatican

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI attends a papal mass for elderly people at St Peter's square on September 28, 2014 at the Vatican. (Photo: AFP)

Published: January 02, 2023 11:14 AM GMT

Updated: January 03, 2023 07:07 AM GMT

Heads of Asian nations have joined world leaders to pay tributes to retired Pope Benedict XVI, hailing his commitment to non-violence and universal peace.

The Germany-born Pope Benedict XVI, who led the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013, died of age-related complications on Dec. 31, aged 95.  

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Pope Benedict will be "remembered for his rich service to society."

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A prominent theologian and academic, Benedict made history by becoming the first pope to resign in six centuries, leading to a conclave that elected Pope Francis.

Pope Benedict devoted "his entire life to the Church and the teachings of Lord Christ," Modi said on the social media site Twitter on Dec. 31

“My thoughts are with the millions around the world who grieve his passing,” Modi said in his Tweet.

Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Hasina issued a condolence message on Jan. 1, expressing “deep shock and sorrow” at the death of the retired pope.

Pope Benedict's non-violent policy and establishment of universal peace will always be remembered, Hasina said.

Pakistan President Arif Alvi hailed the late pope for his efforts for peace, harmony, and interfaith dialogue and called him a strong advocate for refugees and migrants.

The pope "will be remembered for his commitment to peace, love, harmony, to interfaith dialogue and in these xenophobic times as a staunch advocate of the refugees & migrants,” President Alvi tweeted on Jan. 1.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also tweeted to offer his condolences.

“Deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He would be mourned by millions around the world including in Pakistan. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” he tweeted on Dec. 31.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed his sorrow over Benedict’s demise.

“We are in deep sorrow upon learning of the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI today,” Marcos said in a tweet on Dec. 31.

The Catholic-majority Philippines "is one in offering our prayers for the eternal repose of his soul. We keep his loved ones in our prayers,” he added.

President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea offered a flower during a visit to a memorial space for the late former Pope Benedict at the Apostolic Nunciature to Korea in Seoul on Jan. 2, Yonhap news agency reported.

Park Jeong-ha, a spokesperson for the ruling People Power Party, hailed the courage of the former for his resignation as “a symbol of the renovation of the Church” and said that he led “a life as a pilgrim,” which will be remembered forever, according to the Korean Herald.

Park Sung-joon, a spokesperson of South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party, expressed deep condolences over his death, acknowledging Benedict's special attention to peace and unification of the Korean Peninsula.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has expressed his condolences on the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

In a statement, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said PM Kishida referred to the great contributions Benedict made toward world peace.

Japan was greatly moved by a message Benedict sent after the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster, spiritually uplifting the people of Japan, he said.

Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, Indonesia's Minister of Religion Affairs, said in a tweet on Jan. 1 that he "heard a lot about" Pope Benedict as an example of humility.

"He is also a figure who wants to bridge differences. His visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2006, demonstrated his commitment to bridging differences," said the politician of Muslim-majority Indonesia.

"At that time, Pope Benedict joined the Muslim leaders in silent prayer. Apart from humility, what he does is a reflection of someone who wants to bridge differences and loves peace. Have a good rest in peace. May his good deeds be accepted by God," Qoumas said.

In a statement on Dec. 31, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said she has appointed former Vice President Chen Chien-jen, a Catholic, as her special envoy to the funeral of the late pope “based on the deep friendship between our country and the Vatican”.

The Vietnamese government did not issue any statement about the passing away of the former pope.

In a message, Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City, head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam said that the church has lost “a holy Father, a good shepherd, a great master, and a faithful witness."

He called on the country's 27 dioceses to hold special Masses to pray for Pope Benedict XVI in order to live in communion in the universal Church on his funeral day, Jan. 5.

"May God, a merciful Father, grant the blessings of the Kingdom to the simple, humble worker in his vineyard," he said.

The ruling military junta and officials of shadowy government-in-exile have not issued any message since the passing away of the pope emeritus.

Cardinal Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon, hailed Pope Benedict XVI for his great contributions to the church and the world.

"He is an erudite scholar, whose books have brought the understanding of the message to millions," Cardinal Bo said.

"His contribution to Vatican II, his strong support of the mission of Saint John Paul II, and his intellectual acumen are memorable contributions to the Church today. He remained faithful to the tradition and the teachings of the Church," he said.

Cardinal Bo, president of the Federation of the Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) noted that the late pope’s “words, life, and gesture of resigning boldly to further the holiness of the Church are great and moving contributions."

The government of Taiwan said that the late pope will be “remembered for his humility and caring for all humanity.”

The Vatican is the only European state that maintains formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China claims as its breakaway province.


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