Munich

Napolitano lauds pope in 'crucial' moment for Church

'Trials of leadership', Italian head of state says

Napolitano lauds pope in 'crucial' moment for Church

Munich, February 27 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Wednesday lauded Pope Benedict XVI for the "responsibility" he showed in stepping down because of failing strength and said the Catholic Church was facing a "crucial moment". In a speech in Bavaria, which he recalled was the native region of the pope who is stepping down Thursday, Napolitano said: "I send my affectionate thoughts to the pope as well as my admiration for the responsibility he showed when faced with the trials of his leadership in a crucial moment for the Catholic Church". Napolitano added that Germany and Italy shared an "intense communion of faith and religious values" and said rights and welfare were "assured" by their membership of the European Union. Napolitano is on a three-day State visit to Germany.

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