Here’s an interesting detail I hadn’t heard before, from Georg Ganswein, via CNS:
Archbishop Ganswein said Pope Benedict had told him he was retiring long before the Feb. 11 announcement, but under the strictest secrecy. “Instinctively, I said, ‘No, Holy Father, it’s not possible,’ but I realized immediately that he wasn’t communicating something he wanted to discuss, but a decision already made.”
The archbishop said the “VatiLeaks” scandal, which saw the publication of confidential papal correspondence and internal Vatican documents, “did not cause or even influence the resignation.”
“The pope did not flee a responsibility, but was courageous” enough to realize he no longer had the strength to carry out the papal ministry, he said.
Archbishop Ganswein also confirmed that Pope Francis and Pope Benedict speak frequently on the telephone and have done so since the evening Pope Francis was elected.
“I was in the Sistine Chapel to greet the new pope and promise him obedience,” the archbishop said. “Immediately, Pope Francis asked me about Pope Benedict and said he wanted to call him. I dialed the number and handed him the telephone.”