I am not Roman Catholic, have never been and don't even play one on internet radio. Yet I have more than passing interest in Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, 25 years running the Roman Inquisition (formally the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), and widely known in ecclesiastical circles as God's Rottweiler.
It may be unfair in some emotional ways for a non-RC type to criticize him, but he's long been a foe of marriage equality among other good trends. He's also done his damnedest (most blessed?) to shrink the Church. He's made it plain that he only wants to truly devoted and obedient congregants.
So, he announced that he's stepping down on February 28th and has called for a conclave to replace him in March. The last time a pope resigned was 598 years ago, when Gregory XII stepped down to heal a major succession schism.
I confess, if I may use that term in its common meaning, that I admire and appreciate his reasons. Unlike many predecessors who literally limped along when they were ailing and both physically and mentally enfeebled. he admitted he doesn't have the oomph to do papal duties. As he put it, ... "After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry..."
He brother Georg Ratzinger said the Poper was having increasing difficulty walking and that his resignation was part of a "natural process". "His age is weighing on him. At this age my brother wants more rest."
I of course hope for a new, improved version, one less doctrinaire, more compassionate, and more believing in using the Church's resources for social action.