Positive reaction to Benedict's role
Pope Benedict XVI at a consistory at the Vatican today during which he announced he would resign on February 28th next. Photograph: Reuters
Israeli chief rabbi Yona Metzger today praised Pope Benedict's inter-religious outreach after news of his impending resignation emerged. Relations between Israel and the Vatican had never been better, he added.
"During his period [as pope] there were the best relations ever between the church and the chief rabbinate and we hope that this trend will continue," a spokesman quoted the rabbi as saying after the pope announced he would resign.
"I think he deserves a lot of credit for advancing inter-religious links the world over between Judaism, Christianity and Islam."
Rabbi Metzger wished the pope "good health and long days", the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the German government has said it was "moved and touched" by the surprise resignation of German-born Pope Benedict.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she fully respected German-born Pope Benedict's decision to resign because of his frailty.
"If the pope himself, after thorough reflection, has come to the conclusion that he doesn't have the strength any more to carry out his duties, then this has my utmost respect," Ms Merkel said in a brief statement at the Chancellery in Berlin this afternoon. "He had to make a difficult decision."
Speaking at a regular government news conference, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said "As a Christian and as a Catholic, one can't help but be moved and touched by this".
"The German government has the highest respect for the Holy Father, for what he has done, for his contributions over the course of his life to the Catholic church. He has been at the head of the Catholic Church for nearly eight years. He has left a very personal signature as a thinker at the head of the church, and also as a shepherd. Whatever the reasons for this decision, they must be respected," Mr Seibert added.
British prime minister David Cameron also paid tribute to Pope Benedict.
“He has worked tirelessly to strengthen Britain’s relations with the Holy See,” Mr Cameron said.“His visit to Britain in 2010 is remembered with great respect and affection. He will be missed as a spiritual leader to millions.”