Everyone has heard the news of Pope Benedict's sudden resignation today. I wont spend time with all the details because you can get that information elsewhere in abundance. I think one chief factor to take into consideration of the modern day Papacy is the advances in modern medicine. This day and age people can be kept alive a lot longer than nature might have intended. I'm not saying this to suggest euthanasia is a good thing, but rather that nature should be allowed to take its course and our modern technology has in many ways gone against nature.
It is quite ironic that we have the most amazing medicine and yet we abort a significant percentage of our children, along with not really curing most ills but rather just killing the pain. So what's this life saving technology and medicine all about then? Well, it seems as if it's been used to keep people alive a lot longer with a greater quality of life as long as possible. But the problem here is that medicine is no longer something to restore someone to health, but rather to artificially inflate the quality of life, particularly with a mentality that this life is all there is so let's make the most of it. Modern medicine really isn't about helping people, but rather about making money. If it were about helping people, then we'd have all kinds of diseases (especially in Africa) eradicated. Modern medicine looks less and less to God, to the Cross, (redemptive) suffering, and the afterlife. These are all things that were traditionally kept front and center of traditional medicine.
In the case of Pope Benedict, and maybe even future Popes, the resignation is due to decline in health, particularly at such an elderly age. If modern medicine had it's way, the Pope Benedict would not decline as nature intended, with a period of preparing oneself for death, but rather it could have the potential of basically keeping our Pope on life support in an incapacitated state for possibly a few years. The bad part about this is that it would be like not having a Pope, with the bad guys in the Church having more or less free reign to go about their dirty work, all under the overall good reputation of Benedict. A similar thing happened with Pope John Paul II, where his bad health left him more or less incapacitated towards fulfilling his pastoral duties.
I'm not saying any of this to be heartless or to in any way suggest the contraceptive/euthanasia mindset - just the opposite. I think more details will come out in the next month or so as to why Benedict made this decision, but I trust his judgement here and think the conditions were right for him to make this choice (e.g. no scandals). I have high hopes we will get a good more traditional minded Pope and think liberal minded candidates will have no chance.