Many blogs have already mentioned that this Pope sees a battle coming and some have speculated that he does not think he has the strength for it, so he is stepping aside for someone else to do that.
Even Glenn Beck who is not a Catholic, but is a Mormon, produced a brief segment on his trip to the Vatican and his observations that Pope Benedict was putting in place cardinals who are truly orthodox. As Beck said recently, Pope Benedict is stacking the deck, so that his successor will be chosen from a field of truly orthodox cardinals. The reason: Pope Benedict knows that the Church is going to be facing a time of increased persecution.
In my own experience with pro-life activity, I have seen just a little bit of the venom that has been thrown at people who hold traditional Christian values, such as protection of the unborn's right to life. I can only imagine how much more the pontiff would receive when he opened himself to the world via Twitter, and every hateful wingnut felt free to sling abuse at him and at the church.
My normal human nature kind of likes the excitement that seems to be on the horizon. But my more enlightened (hopefully) spiritual self holds back cautiously and is trying to heed the warning that this brings. As so many Christian writers have said prayer is a powerful tool, more powerful than we can know because this universe is not visible to most of us. I am speculating that it is visible to Pope Benedict.
Derek Prince, one of my favourite evangelists, wrote that prayer is the force that moves all things in the world. Those who pray determine how the world will go. So Pope Benedict, in retiring to a life of monastic prayer and penance, is devoting himself whole-heartedly to that power.
The decisive factor in this great war with Satan is just one thing: praying believers. We are the ones who tip the scale for victory on God's side. This is an astonishing fact, but Scripture makes it clear that this is so. Our prayers are not unimportant; they are not secondary. They are the decisive issue in the entire spiritual conflict.
The way we pray will decide the way the universe goes.
Secrets of a Prayer Warrior, by Derek Prince