President of Pakistani bishops' conference resigns
April 07, 2011
The president of the Pakistani bishops’ conference has resigned.
The Vatican announced on April 7 that Pope Benedict had accepted the resignation of Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, which the Pakistani prelate had submitted “upon having reached the age limit.” But Archbishop Saldanha will not reach the age of 75 until June 12.
Although Catholic bishops are required to submit their resignations upon reaching their 75th birthdays, the Pope is not obligated to accept those resignations promptly, and many prelates remain in office for months. Because Archbishop Saldanha is short of the retirement age, and because the Vatican did not name a successor, it seems likely that his resignation was prompted by some other reason.
The Catholic Church in Pakistan has been under heavy pressure from Muslim zealots, who have reacted violently against Church criticism of the country’s blasphemy laws. The pressure has been redoubled in recent days, with assaults on Christians attributed to the burning of a Qur’an by a fundamentalist pastor in Florida.