The man who in his salad days was called " God's Rotweiller" by the liberal wing of his church, for his traditional views, has with one stroke, brought the concept of " retirement" or dare I say even " corporate downsizing"to the Papacy, thus changing it from an absolute, lifelong calling to just another job. It's like the difference between the " divine right of kings" and election to the presidency of a modern nation state.
On February 28th, Pope Benedict XVI will,once again, be Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a prince of the church still, but no longer its supreme pontiff, whose mystical touch can heal the sick and who speaks with the authority of God when he says something "ex cathedra". My suspicion is he will welcome the change. As for his billion plus flock all over the world, I'm not so sure.
During his reign he's managed to make many mistakes, from angering American nuns to horrifying the Muslim world with his narrow ideological views, and I'm not even going to mention his breathtaking ignorance and denial of the priest pedophile debacle and the sangfroid with which he sacrificed so many innocent children to sacerdotal lust before he became pope. That's a whole story just in itself.
I don't think he is a bad guy, just someone who was promoted beyond his level of competency. Actually, I feel a bit sorry for him. Here he is at the end of his life, trying to stave off the knowledge of what a mess he's made of things and not understanding the world as it is outside Vatican walls.
I suspect that failing health really is a problem as well, but the real issue here, is that Joseph Ratzinger is an old man trying to navigate a modern world of which he has very limited knowledge. His denial of the reality of the priest pedophile situation is so total and so horrific, I don't think he will ever be able to grasp the evil that has been done in God's name. Perhaps that is just as well.
I bet he will be happy to lay down the burden that was clearly too much for him and finish out his days back in his monastic library, reading, writing,and praying, as we all must, for forgiveness. Popes, after all, are people too.