The Rev. R. Guy Erwin (ELCA), admits that the stunning news of the Pope's resignation was for a church historian like himself "like the Super Bowl, the World Cup, and Wimbledon rolled into one! (But unfortunately, the best parts are not played in the open.)"
He provides some perspective on the resignation news:
The canon law says "renuntiatio" or to "give up" or "resign" in the one sentence that governs this possibility (Can. 332 sec. 2). It says he can do so, and resignation is valid if he does it freely and publicly, and--here's the old theological question--it doesn't have to be recognized by all to be valid. That is, even if some go on believing that he is still pope, in the canon law he is not.
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