Monday, 11 February 2013

Another Benedict set to retire 968 years later

News that the pope is set to retire has stunned the news media and blogosphere, is it possible that he has been seduced by the recent efforts of our own coalition government to cap the cost of care for the elderly?  In which case can we expect net immigration from Italy to rise by one in the coming weeks?   As one of the driest popes of recent history his announcement was typical of the man - ''For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter''.  All this seems unusual, but what do we know?  Retirement is not uncommon among Popes. 

Back in 1045, another Benedict (the IX and not to be confused with the current Benedict), who was a bad pope sold the papacy for a large cash sum.  We are not expecting this to be the reason for the current pope's decision.  Benedict IX actually resigned to get married, strictly de rigeur  for popes,  but not before he had sold the office to Gregory VI who in turn resigned the following year because people realised that buying your way into papacy isn't cricket.

More recently Celestine V resigned in 1294. A former Benedictine hermit, Celestine had never wanted to be pope. After a less than a year in office he threw in the towel saying that he had a ''desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, etc''

So pope Benedict's is in (good) company and he should be wished a peaceful retirement - he will escape the fate of Celestine who was probably murdered by his predecessor.

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