[W]e’re in very uncharted territory here, folks, so please be patient. The lone item of canon law to even mention a pontiff’s resignation is Canon 332, paragraph 2, which states that “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.”
PM at The Duck of Minerva examines the voting process:
It turns out that since Benedict’s elevation, he has returned the papal elections to the traditional two-thirds margin. This could well result in a longer papal conclave than the last one (which was fast). For the Church, this could be a little bit of a problem, as a lengthy conclave during the Lenten season could leave the hierarchy without a Pope during Easter. Presumably, of course, Benedict’s move away from the Ken Arrow voting rules was also strategic; perhaps he feels confident that “his” man will be elected under a two-thirds rule. That could mean that the next pope is simply a younger, healthier, equally conservative Benedict supporter.
Tomasky hopes that the next pope will be a modernizer:
How long is the Church going to resist the flow of history and keep choosing conservatives or reactionaries? This is a chance for the Church to join the modern world as it did in the early 1960s under John XXIII. But I would imagine it’s an opportunity the Church won’t take.
Fraser Nelson thinks Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria is Benedict’s most likely successor:
Not so long ago, the candidates would all be Italians. Now, the odds on a pope from the third world are quite strong.
Freddy Gray, on the other hand, talks up Cardinal Dolan:
The suddenness of Pope Benedict’s announcement does not give the cardinals from the developing world much time to form a consensus around an emerging star. Whereas the Americans, in Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and a close ally of the Pope Benedict, have a widely respected and popular figure who could comfortably win enough votes. A New York Pope might not be the global story people are hoping for. Nonetheless, it would be quite something.
Ambers respects Benedict’s decision to step down:
Generally, when American political officials resign, a scandal is in the offing. But the former John Cardinal Ratzinger genuinely seems to be stepping down as Pontifex because he no longer believes he can do the job that he believes God has called him to do. There is something profound and endearing about someone elected (anointed?) to an incredibly powerful lifetime job deciding, with years still left, to walk away. That in and of itself is a powerful example to set for everyone.
And K-Lo is fawning:
John Paul taught us how to die. Pope Benedict shows us how to step aside in humility and love.
My thoughts to come.
(Photo: Stefan Wermuth WPA Pool/Getty Images)