Maori Catholics reflect on Pope Benedict's papacy

Maori Catholics are reflecting on the leadership Pope Benedict XVI brought to the Church during his papacy and how a new pontiff will influence the ministry in Aotearoa.

The Pope is stepping down at the end of this month after nearly eight years as head of the Catholic Church, saying he is too old to continue.

The 85-year-old German-born pontiff made the announcement in Latin in a speech in the Apostolic Palace on Monday.

An executive member of the New Zealand Maori Catholic Council, Danny Karatia-Goddard, says Maori members of the Church respected Pope Benedict and will be reflecting on his work.

Mr Karatia-Goddard says like most people, Maori Catholics would have been surprised at the news of the resignation, but as time went on many would have been reflective and drawn into prayers of gratitude for the Pope.

He says with a new Pope yet to be chosen, Maori Catholics will also be thinking about who will be appointed as the next Maori Bishop.

Mr Karatia-Goddard said there has been a strong Maori link with the leader of the Church ever since Max Takuira Mariu was ordained by Pope John Paul II as the first Maori Bishop in 1988. Bishop Mariu died in 2005.

Mr Karatia-Goddard says prayers will be centred around who will lead the Maori body of the Church.

He says Maori Catholics will be asking the Holy Spirit to intercede and guide the conclave of cardinals when they vote for a new Pope.

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