When you think about Pope Benedict being the only Pope to step down since Pope Gregory XII in 1415, think about this:
Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.— Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) December 12, 2012
Being the Pope has always been a tremendous responsibility, but, given that it's been just shy of six centuries since the last pope resigned, and that was not for health reasons but due to "The Great Western Schism," one can't help but conclude that the world of constant streaming media has changed the papacy. It's not just that Pope Benedict was getting too slow, it's that modern times have gotten too fast.
Pope Benedict was the first pope to tweet, but now that will probably be standard for all popes. He is the first pope to live in a world where everything is recorded, where Michelle Obama rolling her eyes can be an international sensation within hours, and where everything that Pope Benedict does is expected to have the full sanctimony befitting of the Pope.
In short, we no longer live in a world where the Pope can live out his final years with dwindling physical and mental strength. Two hundred years ago, it would have taken weeks for the Pope's resignation, announced in the Vatican, to reach me in California. Now it takes a few seconds.
The modern man must hustle, as they say, and that includes the Pope. Pope Benedict is 85, and he can probably give weekly sermons for as long as he can walk and talk, but Popes today must travel, tweet and have holy thoughts on events all over the world. It's hard out there for a pope.