“We have to respect fully the decision of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to resign,” the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches said today.
The Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit made his remarks from New York this morning (11 February 2013) where he has been visiting the World Council of Churches' United Nations office.
“With deep respect I have seen how he has carried the responsibility and burdens of his ministry in his advanced age, in a very demanding time for the church,” Dr Tveit said.
He continued: “I express my appreciation for his love and commitment to the church and to the ecumenical movement. Let us pray that God bless him in this moment and this phase of his life, and that God will guide and bless the Roman Catholic Church in a very important time of transition.”
“Pope Benedict knows the WCC well,” Tveit said, referring to the time in the late 1960s and early 1970s when as a professor of theology at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, he was a member of the WCC Faith and Order Commission.
Benedict first announced his decision in a meeting of cardinals at the Vatican on Monday, 11 February. His deteriorating health was cited as the reason for him to step down from his post as of the end of February.
The World Council of Churches is an ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, now bringing together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries.
It works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.
* Benedict XVI leaves a mixed legacy on ecumenical dialogue, by Stephen Brown - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17981 
* Will Cardinal Martini's '200 years out of date' comments echo in the Conclave?, by Simon Barrow - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17976 
* Abuse survivors will continue legal action against Pope - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17980