For the thousands who watched the powerful HBO documentary "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God," which aired days before Pope Benedict's retirement announcement, the timing of such unexpected news would lead one to believe the health concerns were not the only reason for the speedy departure.
In 2001, Pope John Paul appointed Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) to handle all sex abuse cases.
The documents relating to these cases are now locked away in the Vatican archives. Repeated pleas from lawyers for victims of sexual molestation to release information have been denied.
Release would make evident the pope's degree of guilt for crimes of cover-up and Pope Benedict could conceivably spend his retirement looking out the window of a penal institution. But then the Vatican is beyond the law.
Benedict's exit, says Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, in "What They're Saying" (Feb. 12 Post-Gazette) will leave "hundreds of culpable bishops in power and a culture of secrecy intact."
Cardinal Donald Wuerl reminded us in "American Catholicism at a Crossroads" (Feb. 12) that "every pope is always going to be conscious of the need to proclaim the received tradition of the church."
Jesus was a peasant leading, in effect, a social revolution. This vision covers equality, justice, nondiscrimination and healing.
It seems the church hierarchy has broken severely from its roots and become sadly dysfunctional. The church hierarchy is blind to its blindness.
No matter who is selected as the next pope, the Catholic people will continue affirming their responsibilities for their own lives and choices, waiting for the structure of the church to catch up with the new realities. I expect it eventually will.