Feb 11 2013
(Reuters) – - Pope Benedict was cheered by conservatives for trying to reaffirm traditional Catholic identity but liberals accused him of turning back the clock on reforms and hurting dialogue with Muslims, Jews and other Christians.
The 85-year-old German-born pontiff announced on Monday he would step down at the end of the month because of the effects of old age meant he was unable to complete his ministry. It was a decision that stunned Church officials and Catholics around the world, but one that he had hinted at in the past.
Benedict enjoyed relatively good health most of his life but the first sign that he was slowing down came in October 2011, when he began using a wheeled platform to move up the main aisle of St. Peter’s Basilica.
In a book in 2010, he said he would not hesitate to become the first pontiff to resign willingly in more than 700 years if he felt himself no longer able, “physically, psychologically and spiritually” to run the Catholic Church
Before he was elected pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was known as “God’s rottweiler” because of his stern stand on theological issues. But it became clear that not only did he not bite, but he barely even barked.