|"Great! Now that that's over,|
bring on the dancing nuns!"
The surprise resignation of the 85-yr-old German, born as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger and ordained a priest in the aftermath of WWII, shocked not only most of his flock but also his aides.
During a tumultuous 8yr. tenure, Benedict guided the church through sexual abuse and financial scandals while seeking to reinforce Conservative doctrine among the 1 billion+ faithful.
Quiet and soft-spoken, especially in comparison to his gregarious predecessor Pope John Paul II, Benedict nevertheless maintained a vigorous travel and speaking schedule, and in December launched the first ever papal Twitter account. He was 78 when elected pope in 2005, the oldest person chosen since the C18th.
The Pope's decision, announced while the Vatican is wracked by allegations of internal power struggles, has ignited speculation about the selection of the next pontiff. At a time when the church is declining in its former stronghold of Europe, but gaining strength in Africa, Asia and Latin America, pressure is growing to break with tradition and elect a non-European pope. My black sense of humour always hoped the (now deceased) Philippines' Cardinal Sin would one day become Pontiff (for obvious reasons!)...
The conclave of cardinals, which chooses the next pope, is expected to convene in mid-March.