The news Monday that Pope Benedict XVI is to resign from office on February 28, 2013, was unexpected. Catholics and people in general were shocked to hear the resignation.
Is the Pope's resignation merely necessitated due to personal health concerns or is there more to it than meets the eye?
Pope Benedict XVI has been the head of the Roman Catholic Church since May 7, 2005. Not as widely popular as his predeccessor this Pope has remained somewhat enigmatic. The previous Pope, John Paul, a Polish man, proved over, and over again that he was a man of the people. As much as 'his emminence is able to, that is.
Benedict XVI a German has appeared distant by comparison. This does not necessarily mean that he has been a worse or better Pope, simply that he was different. Each Pope has a style of their own.
Having recently become the first Pope to take to Twitter perhaps it was fitting that, quickly following the announcement of his resignation, Twitter was alight with the hashtags #pope #pape and #vatican. Even the lives of the rich, famous and earthly beings of heaven are ruled by the Internet.
The conversation will now centre on the Pope's successor. In such roles it is always a case of the 'king is derad, long live the king'. The traditional process of choosing a Pope will be followed.
Some will speculate that the recent trials and tribulations of the Roman Catholic church, and yes the World, may have forced Benedict's hand. In truth it could be nothing more than poor health, though.
Certainly in the past Pope's have been left to die whilst still in office. This has led to aging Pope's making rambling speeches and appearing nothing more than a symbol. Perhaps Benedict wanted to choose a better path?
Conspiracy theorists and Nostradamus fans will no doubt find a myriad of other reasons.
Pope Benedict XVI was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger; 16 April 1927) is the 265th Pope.
The Pope's resignation is shown below in full.
Vatican Radio released the full text of Pope Benedict's statement of resignation: