This was the big news today. Pope Benedict decided that it was better for the Catholic Church if he handed the See of St. Peter over to someone younger than his 85 years. They say that this is the first pope to do this in 600 years. But the last guy (Gregory XII) gave up pope because there was a deal struck where two rival popes (known as anti-popes) also gave up their claims. Not quite the same league as what Benedict is doing. He is really doing a “first”, and setting a precedent.
I’m not a strong Catholic anymore, and so I see a change like this–that the Pope gets old and retires–as good for the Church, which is in need of many more reforms that we will never see. I remember the summer of the Three Popes (1978), and so the media’s handicapping who they think the conclave will pick is funny. They did the same thing in 1978, and got it wrong. Twice.
The prominent names mentioned today were Scola, Archibishop of Milan, and Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec. PaddyPower has Scola as an 8 to 1, though.
Is the next pope going to pick the name John Paul III? I wonder when the next John Paul will be.