On February 11, 2013, Benedict XVI caused dismay for many in the church when he announced he was stepping down from the papacy, a job that is normally for life. Back in his native Germany, his resignation was treated somewhat differently however.
When he was first elected in April 2005 there was great joy among German Catholics at the news that Cardinal Ratzinger had ascended to the throne.
But the honeymoon wasn’t to last and by the time he paid an official visit to Germany in 2011 the situation appeared tense.
A year earlier a story had broken of priests abusing boys at the archdiocese of Munich.
At the time of some of the abuses during the 1980s Joseph Ratzinger had been the Archbishop of Munich and despite his best efforts this national scandal is far from over.
Professor John Pollard of the University of Cambridge says this and other scandals continue to trouble him even in retirement:
“There’s a lot of concern in the Vatican about further claims, financial claims but also legal against the church, even perhaps against the ex-pope which I think is why the pope will be living in the Vatican and not in his native Bavaria, because in the Vatican of course he would be immune to any form of prosecution.”
After eight years in office, the 85-year-old’s papacy does not seem to have given a boost to the religion in Germany where 150,000 people a year are dropping their affiliation with the Catholic Church in protest.