Benedict XVI has announced his resignation, which has garnered shock from many quarters. “But but but . . . popes serve for life! No one could have anticipated this!”

Sorry to burst some bubbles, but it has happened before, canon law explicitly allows for it, John Paul II wrote two letters of resignation as his health declined, and Benedict himself spoke about the possibility — indeed, the necessity — of a pope resigning under certain circumstances. I applaud Benedict for not thinking that he is irreplaceable and therefore must stay in office until he dies.

So now speculation will turn to his successor, and rumors will be flying. Enjoy the retrospectives, the speculation, and the rumors, but take them all with very large grains of salt.