Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of his retirement yesterday morning sent the internet into a tizzy, not to mention the thousands of Catholic institutions across the world. The first question on everyone’s lips seemed to be “can he do that?” And since no pope has in 600 years, there doesn’t seem to be much precedent for it. Well, in a special and timely edition, the new podcast Footnoting History presents the “admittedly very sparse” history of papal abdication. It has indeed happened before, but “almost never without scandal.”
Listen to the brief history above and visit Footnoting History’s homepage for more fascinating historical footnotes.
Josh Jones is a writer, editor, and musician based in Washington, DC. Follow him @jdmagness