(ANSA) - Rome, February 18 - Catholic leaders from the Holy
Land - Israel, Palestine and Jordan - have sent a collective
letter to the pope following the announcement of his
"The Holy Land Catholics bow before your decision to give
up your ministry as Bishop of Rome and successor of Saint Peter
the Apostle, which you took by abandoning yourself to God's will
in total freedom," the letter begins. "We assure you of our
prayers and our support in this step".
The missive conveys "the gratitude of the inhabitants of
Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus, that of all the faithful
who live here: Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze, and
especially that of all the Christians, be they Orthodox,
Anglican, or Protestant, and especially those of our dioceses,
who carry you in their hearts".
"You invited us to walk fearlessly in freedom and truth on
the way through the narrow door, which leads to a culture of
peace that is built with real gestures of mutual forgiveness and
reconciliation of the hearts," it reads.
"Holy Father, it will be difficult for us to forget your
authentic faith, your 'feeling cum Ecclesia', your sense of
duty, which you carried out with loyalty and dedication, you
example of intellectual honesty and your great simplicity and