The first Pope to leave office standing since 1415:
Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month in an unexpected development, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85.
He became Pope in 2005 following John Paul II’s death.
Resignations from the papacy are not unknown, but this is the first in the modern era, which has been marked by pontiffs dying while in office.
Does anyone else remember Robert Ludlum’s The Road to Gandolfo? The Pope is kidnapped by a disgraced US Army general, hoping to collect $1 in ransom from each and every Catholic in the world. But the Pope decides he enjoys being away from the pressures and demands of Rome, and chooses to remain “hostage.” It was an uncharacteristically funny book from Ludlum, which is probably why he originally published it under a pseudonym.
I don’t mean to make light of Benedict’s retirement. I do hope he finds peace and enjoyment in whatever time he has left.