Like most of the world, I awoke this morning to the news that Pope Benedict was stepping down. A resignation of a sitting Pope is extremely rare: the last Pope to step aside was Pope Gregory XII, who resigned in 1415 amid a schism within the Church.
Listening to the various talk shows around town, there were the predictable reactions.
Moderate Catholics shared that this was an opportunity to get a reform-minded Pope.
Their conservative brothers and sisters stood firm that the Church would not change.
Here is what struck me. How many institutions on earth could actually state that they had had an occurrence that was not without precedence but had not happened in over 600 years.
If you are a moderate, then you could argue that there is room for optimism and that anything is possible.
If you are more traditional, you could sleep soundly knowing that the pope resigning means the next big change in the Church is not due now until the year 2613.
Either way it is something to ponder.