It’s not often than anyone gets to shatter 600 years of precedent, but in announcing his resignation Monday, Pope Benedict XVI, did that and much more.
By retiring at 85, he gave other aging leaders — in the church and outside of it — a lot to think about. "Both strength of mind and body are necessary" to govern, the pope said in his official statement, adding that his strength was deteriorating. He no longer believes he could "adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."
So how old is too old? It depends on the individual and his or her role.
With the faithful fleeing the Church in the U.S. (immigrants excluded), secularism rising and an assortment of complex problems on the agenda, the Church seems certain to benefit from an infusion of youth at the top.
But leaders in other fields might take Benedict’s cue as well.