On Tuesday, February 12th, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world and his congregation with news that he was resigning the papacy; this is entirely unprecedented in the modern age. The last pope to resign, Gregory XII, did so only to solve a dilemma of leadership in the church. That was 600 years ago, and it hasn’t happened since. Every pope in 600 years has died in the arms of the church.
But not this pope. Regardless of what you believe, it is hard to fathom how, within the Catholic framework, he can justify rejecting the papacy theologically or practically. Despite the advantages of medical care and luxury, despite the prospect of remaining servant of God and meeting his creator as pope, he is rejecting his position in relation to God and walking away.
When something extraordinary happens, one must look for extraordinary circumstances. I think I can explain this sudden resignation, if the reader is prepared to follow a trail of breadcrumbs, link after link in a chain that connects five men. This is not a chain of five conspirators, necessarily, but is intended to show the links between our politics, our financial gurus, and our religious leaders.
If there is any truth to these speculations, whether you believe in a divinity or you don’t, I think you can appreciate and share the sentiment: God help us all.