Shock is probably the predominant emotion evoked by the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to resign at the end of February. Given that the last papal resignation took place 600 years ago, it’s understandable that the world has got used to the idea that being pope is a life sentence. Indeed, previous popes seem to have got used to it as well. Some of them, including Benedict’s immediate predecessor, were martyrs to the job, and not entirely metaphorically.
Suspicion is another reaction, less common perhaps but rife in high places. Mr Piers Morgan, himself a Catholic (who knew?), tweeted his suspicion that there was more to Benedict’s resignation than met the eye. This is an insight into Piers Morgan, but also into a certain sort of modern mind that cannot quite believe in such things as modesty, humility, and indeed resignation.