Rupert Shortt offers some thoughts on the Pope’s resignation : “Even John Paul II, renowned for the doggedness with which he pursued his ministry in the face of chronic ill health, is said to have entrusted his private secretary with a resignation letter to be published if he reached a certain level of incapacity.”

John Paul toughed it out, but Shortt suggests that “the effect on the Church was very mixed. The barque of Peter was steered this way and that by competing Vatican officials, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger among them. The contrast between sclerosis at the top, and the vibrant grassroots of the Church in Latin America, Africa and Asia, looked stark.”

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