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The pope’s lesson in retirement

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, February 11, 2013
Posted: 5 pm ET

The biggest retirement planning news of the day is undoubtedly the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, who Monday morning announced, "After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the ... ministry."

Michele Dillon, a  professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire  and an expert on both Catholicism and aging, calls the pope's action a message to all older people who still hold positions of responsibility.

"We all need to reassess whether what we are doing is the right thing to do. It is very hard to walk away from power. But it behooves all of us to ask ourselves if someone else could do what we're doing -- and do it better," Dillon says.

The pope wrote in his resignation that he intended to spend the rest of his life studying and praying, which Dillon believes means that he won't be involved at all in the running of the Catholic church. "It is generous of him to say that he is stepping down and plans to spend his time praying -- not looking over the shoulder of his successor. What the pope is doing is a selfless act. He is doing what is  best for the church, not what is best for him," Dillon says.

"He could have done what his predecessor Pope John Paul II did -- delegated decision-making to others -- but he recognized that the church needs a full-time leader."

The last time a sitting pope resigned was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, so I doubt there's a retirement fund or any standard pope retirement policies. Dillon says there is a retirement plan for bishops who contribute to it during their working years, so the pope, who says he will retire to a monastery in the Vatican, should have some spending money.

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Paul Preeble
February 20, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I hope the next pope is deserving of a quiet, peaceful retirement.

Michael Nomura
February 13, 2013 at 10:35 pm

It nice to know that you can work in your Golden Years because you feel like it, and not because you have to make ends meet. Start saving for retirement early in life.

Steve J
February 13, 2013 at 11:42 am

There comes a day for all of us when we have to be honest if we are
still at the top of our game, and if we have financial security
surrender our position to some one younger and honestly probably more efficient.

Plus, we all have limited time on this planet, and time spent with your loved ones will always trump time at the office.

Kay Bell
February 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Or, as has been speculated, even the Pope hates his job on a Monday!