As I have said elsewhere, I am Catholic. I am not a very good Catholic in terms of things like going to Church regularly, in fact I am a very bad Catholic. Also, I do not agree with the Catholic Church in all things, though I generally do not make a point about trumpeting where I disagree – ultimately that is between the Church and me. Nevertheless, Catholicism is where I feel most of home spiritually, and have done so since my conversion (from Church of England) back in 2000. Therefore when I first saw the headline about Benedict XVI announcing his imminent abdication it took me a moment to actually process properly what I read.
There are over a billion Catholics on this earth – the largest single-denominational group of any religion I believe. In large part for that very reason there are many hundreds of millions more who define themselves, to a greater or less extent, in opposition to the Catholic Church. In ways both subtle and unsubtle what will happen in Rome next month when a new Pontiff is chosen will greatly influence and impact a vast segment of the human population. This has the potential to be as important as anything else going on in the world right now.
All I will say is this: do not believe any of the “predictions”. Very many of the predictions about Benedict XVI have been shown to be in error (he was not the ultra-reactionary, for example). Likewise many predictions of John Paul II were incorrect.
Also, I just wish to thank Benedict for his eight years of, at times, very thankless service. I wish for him a happiness, harmony, and peace for the time that he has left amongst us.