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Merkel: 'utmost respect' for Pope's decision

Merkel: 'utmost respect' for Pope's decision
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a heartfelt reaction to the shock resignation of Pope Benedict the XVI on February 11.

“When Josef Ratzinger was elected as the head of the Catholic church almost eight years ago, we in Germany were proud of our compatriot – the first in centuries to hold the post of Pope. We wished him well for his task,” Merkel said.

“If the Pope himself, after thorough reflection, has come to the conclusion that he doesn’t have the strength anymore to carry out his duties, then this has my utmost respect,” Merkel added.

French President François Hollande made a short statement, saying: “France recognises the decision taken by the Pope, but we don’t have more to say about something that is a Church matter.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Pope Benedict XVI would be missed as “a spiritual leader to millions.”