I LOVE when people ask questions! Honestly, I have heard a little of what the media is saying, but mostly ignoring. The pope is simply stepping down because he is old. When he was about to be elected pope, he told everyone he prayed that this passed him by because he was already 78. No longer is the pope's role to just sit and study and pray, as it used to be. He must now travel the globe, do many strenuous Masses, and sit on many meetings, write continuously, make clear, concise decisions. He must oversee the Vatican, which is a small country unto itself.
It used to be that the body died before the mind was lost, for the most part. Now, modern medicine keeps the body alive far longer. The pope wrote about this before and during his papacy. He always has strongly felt that a pope must step down if he feels he is no longer able to serve properly. If he feels somehow incapacitated, either physically or mentally. In his last several trips he has stopped to pray for guidance at the tombs of some significant people in the church. One was the tomb of the last pope who stepped down, 600 years ago. The pope has always had the right to step down when he feels it is the best decision, though it has rarely been exercised.
I hope this answered your question. I have actually read some of his writings from when he was just Cardinal Ratzinger. He really is a good and gentle, holy man. I think he is right in stepping down, and I hope and pray he is allowed to spend his remaining days in peace. He loves Christ and His Holy Church, and I truly believe he is only doing what he thinks is right. He is only human, after all, with what is probably the hardest job in the world. 85 years old, and he has lead us beautifully for the last 8 years.
Thanks again for asking, I really, really would love to answer a question rather than have someone make assumptions. Blessings!
I think that about sums up my feelings on the matter. I have loved this Pope. I think Catholics generally have strong feelings for the leader of the Catholic church, especially when he is a good and holy pope. Pope Benedict has done a very good job of electing very good, very faithful men to be bishops, archbishops and cardinals. I think he has been planning this for a very long time. I pray the rest of the world comes to an understanding of what is really happening, rather than just making foolish assumptions about the church.
A couple of great commentaries: