If, like us, you are a Vatican watcher, then Pope Benedict’s decision to quit the Petrine Ministry will have raised more than a frisson of excitement. It was a bit of a dampener that Benedict made the announcement to a semicomatose gathering of clerics. It is so passé to do things live in these times when twitter has surely become the favoured medium for making announcements of any note.
In the days that followed, the Pope’s staff cleared away the clutter of papal life, leaving Benedict to enjoy a largely empty diary for the remnant of his tenure at the Vatican. The Pope retired to his Lenten spiritual exercises and we were left wishing we had learnt more Latin at school.
It became clear, on the day that Benedict XVI announced his impending resignation, that all but the most pressing matters of papal business would be shelved for his successor.