Quite a surprise that Pope Benedict is passing the baton this way. You wonder what's behind the scenes to break with a 600 year precedent. A beef Ratzinger's always had, that Pope's spent their last years on autopilot? Afraid of other people running it while he's frail? Wanting to have influence on who his successor is? [emphasis mine] If I had to pick one, the last one would be high on my list as a factor.To see every office in terms of merely the exercise of power is the boringly typical ideology of our age. To quote the Holy Father himself:
"There is an ideology that fundamentally traces all existing institutions back to power politics. And this ideology corrupts humanity and also destroys the Church. Here is a concrete example: If I see the Church only under the aspect of power, then it follows that everyone who doesn't hold an office is oppressed. And then the question of, for example, women's ordination, as an issue of power, becomes imperative. I think this ideology produces a totally false point of view, as if power were the only category for explaining the world and the communion present in it. If belonging to the Church has any meaning at all, then the meaning can only be that it gives us eternal life. We are not in the Church in order to exercise power as if in some kind of association."