The bold decision of the Pope to resign is the best thing that has happened to the Catholic Church in a long period. I believe it is an omen for greater change to make the Church more relevant. The first Pope to make this decision in 7 centuries means that it should not become the norm.
The Vatican is like running a huge multinational company and the Pope its CEO. One has to be of sound mind, and have the stamina for the job, and when one is unable to carry out the tasks they should gracefully step down. Never mind it is Religion at the Apex of it all, that should not detract from the fact that God’s servants have a job at hand. Recent decision of the Archibishop of Canterbury the head of the Anglican Church to resign while still quite capable is also an indication that the job should only be for a reasonable period with NO stipulation on term limits.
I do hope there is a sea change in attitude at the Conclave that decides on the new Pope. I would like to see a decision that sees younger and more capable Cardinals appointed on the understanding that if they are not up to the challenge they resign and give someone else a chance. It does create more dynamics that did not exist previously but it will give the followers of that Church the confidence that it is being led by someone up to the task and the responsibility being able to manage the various tasks.
The Challenges ahead will include bringing in other Christian Churches into the fold, and permitting priests to marry, all inevitable in the scheme of things and is only a matter of time. The Celibacy of the Priesthood is merely Church Canon Law that can be changed by the Church and not something that the Religion has decreed. It was done for convenience and the belief that to be a servant of God, one had to devote all of one’s energies to that calling!
Along with the above I do believe the issue of women priests will also have to be faced as an inevitable consequence of the demands and shortages of men to take the vocation. These challenges can only be met with capable people at the helm being able to carefully and tactfully manage different thought processes within the church without putting the Church’s very foundations into question.
So the College of Cardinals tasked with your new appointment, know ye that the Pope is not one for life, but for useful life, and the onus will be on the magnanimous individual to choose his time of departure at the right moment!
The Pope leaves on the 28th of February into retirement and a new Pope will be elected within two weeks thereafter. There must be a lot of jockeying of theories and people going on in the various corridors of the Vatican as the College of Cardinals, namely those under 80 who are able to vote.