My guess, or hope, is that underlying the numerous circumstances prompting Pope Benedict XVI's decision to step down is the crushing moral and spiritual weight of presiding over a church that has fostered, dismissed and covered up child abuse.
If so, he should convey that in terms so stark that the church will choose a new pope and cultivate values that proceed more from deep soul-searching and good sense than the will to preserve power and tradition at any cost.
The editorial's statement that Benedict was "insufficiently vigilant" about sexual abuse of children by priests is much too mild.
Before he became pope, Benedict was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and in 2001, Pope John Paul II centralized all reporting of sexual abuse cases worldwide in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed at that point by Ratzinger. As the Guardian newspaper reported in 2005, Ratzinger in 2001 "sent a confidential letter to every bishop in the Catholic Church reminding them of the strict penalties facing those who referred allegations of sexual abuse against priests to outside authorities."
Thus, instead of saying he was insufficiently vigilant, it would be more accurate to say that Benedict covered up and perpetuated the sexual abuse of children by priests.
What a God-sent opportunity for the Roman Catholic Church. It has a chance to choose someone, perhaps from the developing world, who will prioritize the fight against poverty and disease over the fight against birth control; who will place the containment of HIV above the demonization of condoms; who will honor our nuns and gays; who will welcome women into full membership in the church; and who will protect living children with the same zeal as the unborn and our priests.
Benedict has the foresight to know when to quit. American politicians could take a cue from him and get out of office before they're carried out in a coffin or because they're too old and frail to do a good job.
Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Politician, government will get along very well without you. As they say in alcohol ads, know when to say when.