ucanews.com reporter, Manila
Updated: February 27, 2013 09:33 PM GMT
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, lay leaders and clergy have bade farewell to Pope Benedict XVI, who steps down from office today.
Some conveyed messages of good health while some expressed admiration for showing humility in admitting he can no longer lead the Church.
A women's rights group also issued a statement calling on the next pontiff to be more sensitive to women's rights.
“Holy Father, thank you very much for shepherding the Church with wisdom and great zeal, making us experience the presence of God in our midst even during these troubled times,” said Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu.
“We thank Your Holiness in particular for canonizing Saint Pedro Calungsod as our model and intercessor,” he added.
“We, the people of God in the Philippines, find it difficult to describe how we felt when you announced Your Holiness' resignation as our beloved Supreme Pontiff. Many of us shed tears,” said Palma in his letter.
“But we know that it is because of Your Holiness' great love for the Church that, after a long period of discernment, you made that decision and that it is all for the good of Christ’s faithful,” he added.
“Keep the Philippines in your prayers,” said Fe Barino, coordinator of the Cebu Catholic Charismatic Communities.
“Thank you for your honesty. Not everyone in power is willing to give it up,” said Leny Occasiones, of the Gabriela women's party in Cebu.
“Hope you can ensure that your successor is somebody who is ready to embrace change and responds to the needs and aspirations of women and lesbians, gays and transsexuals,” she added.
“We treasure it as one of our fondest memories. Thank you for reminding us that we could pursue our dreams, live a beautiful and successful life for as long as Jesus is in the center of it,” said Eilleen Esteban, youth coordinator of the bishops' conference.
“Thank you for the deep wisdom of your simple messages that goes straight to our hearts. This reminds us how Jesus’ simplicity talks to everyone despite His being God. Thank you for all your might to be strong for our Church. We love you so much! We are praying for the life that you chose now,” she added.
“Your Holiness I am saddened by your decision and cannot comprehend exactly why. [It] felt like you have given up on us but, I know it was not an easy decision,” said Manette Bermudo, a mother of two.
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