Filipinos in Asia‚Äôs largest predominantly Roman Catholic nation attended Mass on Sunday with their church having no pope due to Benedict XVI‚Äôs resignation ‚ÄĒ the first in 600 years ‚ÄĒ and prayed for the smooth rise of a successor to lead an embattled institution.
Benedict stunned the world when he announced Feb. 11 that he would resign, citing his age and frail health. His resignation, which took effect Thursday, ushered in a period known as ‚Äúsede vacante,‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúvacant see‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ the transition period between papacies when a few Vatican officials take charge of running the church.
All cardinals worldwide have been summoned to the Vatican for a conclave to elect Benedict‚Äôs successor. The new pope will inherit a church facing a tide of secularism in Europe, as well as clergy sex abuse and corruption scandals that have underscored the need to pick a formidable successor to lead the world‚Äôs 1.2 billion Catholics.
Churchgoers and the clergy in the Philippines said they were not worried by the temporary absence of a pope, but nevertheless felt the vacuum.
‚ÄúThere is something missing more or less in spirit,‚ÄĚ said the Rev. Joel Sulse, who celebrated Mass at the Santuario de San Antonio parish in an upscale residential enclave in Manila‚Äôs Makati business district. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs also a challenge. It‚Äôs like when there is no leader, you really have to stand for your convictions.‚ÄĚ [More]