Panaji, Feb 28 (IANS) Catholics in Goa will hold special prayers for a "worthy successor" to Pope Benedict XVI as the Holy See, the seat of spiritual authority of the church globally, fell vacant Thursday after his retirement, said Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao.
In his address to Catholics in the state, Ferrao said that it was a time for deep prayer for the universal church and the his archdiocese of Goa and Daman thanked the "wise and inspiring" guidance of Pope Benedict XVI.
"With one heart and mind, we thank Benedict XVI for his outstanding leadership in these most challenging times," he said.
It was Pope Benedict XIV's simplicity, humility and great courage, which reflected in his decision to step down from office after eight years, in Catholicism's most cherished seat, he said.
Ferrao has now asked parishes across the state to conduct special prayers in order to inspire the college of cardinals to choose a "worthy successor" and has identified March 9 as a Day of Prayer for the purpose.
"We encourage our Catholic families, religious communities and prayer groups as well as small Christian communities to offer special prayers, particularly the Holy Rosary, for the same intention," he said.
Goa was one of the earliest places in India where Christianity was introduced in a big way through the conversions beginning in the 1500s. Catholics account for a significant minority in the state at nearly 26 per cent of the total population of over 14 lakh.