I was shocked to learn that he's the first to resign rather than to die in office (is office the right word?) since 1415. And I would think that Catholics would be glad, at least in general terms, at the violation of this dysfunctional tradition. Not only does it seem to increase the likelihood that the Pope will rule with clarity and vigor, but also the likelihood that the transitions will be smoother.I am not shocked to learn that Eric Zorn is shocked. Eric strikes me an opinionated opinion-slinger whose sum total understanding of history and culture is gleaned from PBS premium gift discs of Ken Burns and Bill Moyers lectures, rounded out with solid HBO viewing.
Not having had the pre-packaged melange of intellectual stuffing gobbled up by the Chicago Tribune's editorial cabal and its house mice (EZ & Scmich), another person with a robust appetite for learning might counter with this -" well Eric, I mean Mr. Zorn, you may be interested to learn that while the Pope is bishop of Rome, he is also the Head of State and the last Pope to call it quits did so to end the Avignon Schism. That was a dispute with real political repercussions like war and stuff. Gregory X!! resigned and the Council of Constance ( a place not a girl) selected Martin V over the three contestants Gregory Benedict and John. There was Teutonic issues and Hussite heresy as well as the vote for Marty.
Subsequent Popes, likewise had all of this historical stuff too - alliances with Austria ( Holy Roman Empire) against Italian States, and Norman Naples and Spain and Reformation Protestants and Enlightenment goofballs like Rousseau who begat Italian secularists of the 19th Century who attacked and sacked Rome, and later Bismark who hated Catholics like a Medill and more sieges and riots and then the Nazis and Joe Stalin kind of kept Popes busy. Too busy to think about retirement.
Manya Brachear The Seeker is an adept at hooting off her anti-Catholic bazoo only seconds after she chips the china along with "journalists" of her gender in the Cardinal's parlor.
The dysfunctional tradition???? You mean like the Supreme Court, or being Andy Shaw?
Naw, Popes stay on the job because they have quite a bit to do. The Popes I knew Pius XII, John XXIII ( for real one; not the anti-Pope of Council of Constance), Paul VI, Pope John Paul and Pope John Paul II all displayed remarkable wit, charm and intelligence all the way to the end. Benedict XVI resigned a step or two ahead of "the Final Call." None displayed the ravages of senility so evident in Congressman Jan Schakowsky, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, or Richard Roeper.
To mime Eric, "Dude, Popes don't have an Illinois Pension."