Pope Benedict XVI accepted Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir’s resignation, reported L’Obsservatore Romano newspaper on Saturday.
The Pope said in a letter to Sfeir: “I accept your free decision that reflects your humility.”
“I trust that you will always stand by the Maronite church in prayer, wisdom, and sacrifices,” it concluded.
In an interview with OTV in the Vatican on the sidelines of a ceremony to unveil the statue of Saint Maroun, Sfeir said: "They're free to say what they want, but the real reason is that I have reached the age of 90."
The patriarch noted that "the biggest threat facing the Lebanese is their split." He added, however, that the Lebanese situation "is still better than the situation in neighboring countries."
Sfeir submitted his resignation to the Vatican late last year, but it remains unknown whether the election of a new patriarch, if Sfeir's resignation is accepted, will take place before or after the election of a number of Maronite bishops to replace those who have reached the retirement age of 75.
The bishops who have reached retirement age could still vote to elect a new patriarch as long
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