Loren, I get the feeling you are not impressed by the catholic leadership? Maybe even that you don't trust them!
Benedict has said that he will not apply any pressure on the College of Cardinals with his suggestions for a successor.
I would also point out that he has been exceedingly frail in recent public appearances, and has been told not to travel by physicians.
While we like to pick on the pope (or any Christian leader), there is no particular reason to assume anything other than what he has said about his resignation than what he claims: that he is too elderly and ill to continue ruling the Church. There is a difference between scepticism, evidence, and speculation.
Even the Vatican itself was suprised by the announcement. As noted in the English language edition of L'Osservatore Romano (the official newspaper of the Holy See - article continues at this link
Dismay, surprise, astonishment and emotion were the immediate reactions to Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement to “renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome” in the Consistory Hall on Monday, 11 February. These sentiments were etched on the faces of the cardinals, bishops and prelates — assembled for the Ordinary Public Consistory — who heard the startling announcement in the Pope’s own voice.
Eyes met and a murmur grew in the hall as surprise faded into sorrow. However, after the first few minutes of confusion, the unanimous recognition of the Pope’s extraordinary act of humility rippled through the hall. In addition to the Cardinals, among those present were the papal masters of ceremony, representatives of the postulations, choristers of the Sistine Chapel Choir, papal chair bearers and technicians.
I'm not sure I would believe Benedict's claims about his planned behavior. So I would remain skeptical. You are right, the rest is speculation.
I read that at least some in the Vatican knew of his plan to retire, and that his retirement home has been under construction for some time. I guess for everyone else, "what's going on with that building" was answered by "It's a surprise!". Probably most did not know.
I was searching the CBS News website for stories related to the whole priest child abuse scandal and found the following. In the light of Benedict's pending departure, I thought it was interesting, particularly one element which is mentioned toward the end of the piece:
And yes, I mean the issue of resignation. Worthy of note: this report was filed on 18 April, 2010!
Hah! The butler did it! That's probably why he was spared jail time for the theft of J.R.'s papers - the Firm got the worst of them back. Just a possibility. Do you think there may still be a rack in the basement?
yes, in reality, there's only one way out of this thing of ours..
Very interesting Loren! Thanks for the video embed. It's interestiong, this pope is considered one of the most traditional of popes in a long time. So he does this, very nontraditional thing. I guess when it suits him, he can defy tradition.
My tendency to find conspiracies 'neath every bed leads me to the notion that the pope's visit to his butler's jail cell revealed that the letters the man had stolen from his boss had fallen into the wrong hands and that he was blackmailed into resigning, afraid that his hand in the pedophile priest scandals was going to be made public by some cut-rate Julian Assange. While his palatial digs on a property adjoining the Vatican are not quite up to Castel Gandalfo, rest assured he will still enjoy his Chateau Neuf du Papa with his filet mignon and a glass of Chateau d'Yquiem for dessert. This old Nazi will live in the lap of luxury and take many secrets with him when he kicks.
seems quite plausible to me.