The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is “an act of humility and a true example of humble leadership,” according to Rev. Fr. Ryan P. Jimenez.
Jimenez, apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, said the diocese is grateful for Pope Benedict XVI's leadership.
“He will be remembered as a great teacher, a gifted scholar, and a holy servant of the Lord,” Jimenez said in an email response to Saipan Tribune.
The Vatican announced on Monday that the 85-year-old Roman Catholic pontiff will resign on Feb. 28 due to deteriorating health brought by old age-becoming the first pope to do so in about 600 years.
Born Joseph Alois Ratzinger, he became Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005 after the death of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
Pope Benedict XVI's resignation was a surprise for many Catholics, including those in the CNMI, which is predominantly Catholic, according to Jimenez.
“However, I also understand that this decision is made after a period of deep and serious discernment, and in the end, the Holy Father chose what is for the greater good of the Church,” Jimenez said.
“We trust that the Church operates through the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” he added.
Jimenez said he does not know if the pope's resignation will have any bearing on the selection of a new bishop for the CNMI.
“What I do know is that only the Holy Father can appoint bishops,” said Jimenez. “We need to pray harder and continue to wait patiently.”
The Northern Marianas has not had a bishop for almost four years since the resignation of Bishop Tomas Camacho, which became official in April 2009.
Camacho stepped down as the highest ranking prelate in the CNMI when he turned 75 on Sept. 18, 2008, as required by Canon Law.
Jimenez said in an earlier interview that he met with Pope Benedict XVI in December 2011, during which he was asked by the Holy Father to tell the community “not to lose hope” and for the priests in the CNMI to continue their pastoral work while waiting for a new bishop.
He urged the Catholic faithful in the Commonwealth to pray for Pope Benedict XVI. “As we thank Pope Benedict XVI, we also pray for the next pontiff of the Catholic Church.”