Indeed, "It would be foolish to act as if nothing happened" with the abdication of a pope, and much more since it was Benedict XVI. While I am not completely surprised by his gesture of love for the Church, I am saddened that he's exiting stage left because I have come to rely on him as a credible witness of how to live my Christian life with vigor.
Editorials are flying around faster than the wicked witch: some are very worth reading and some not. One would swear that the commentators have never read a word that Razinger wrote or truly observed a gesture of Benedict XVI. But won't realize this until you digest what's said.
Let me offer an editorial from La Repubblica (February 15, 2013) written by Father Julián Carrón, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation. "Ratzinger's Cross" gives reasons of true Hope.
What was capable of filling the entire world with silence, all of a sudden?
That astonished moment destroyed, in one stroke, the images that we normally have of Christianity: a past event, an earthly organization, a group of roles, a morality about things that we should or shouldn't do... No, all of this cannot give adequate reasons for what happened on February 11th. We must look elsewhere for the explanation.
Therefore, faced with the Pope's gesture, I wondered: Will anyone ask themselves who Christ is for Joseph Ratzinger, if the bond with Him led him to carry out an act of freedom this surprising, which everyone--believers or not--recognized as exceptional and profoundly human? Avoiding this question would leave the event without an explanation and, what is worse, we would miss the most precious part of what it witnesses to us. It cries out, in fact, just how real the person of Christ is in the life of the Pope, how much Christ must be contemporaneous and powerfully present in order for him to generate a gesture of freedom from everything and everyone, an unheard-of novelty, so impossible for man. Full of wonder, I was then forced to shift my gaze to what made it possible: Who are You, who fascinate a man to the point of making him so free that he provokes the desire for the same freedom in us, too? "Christ in His beauty draws me to Him," exclaimed another man passionate about Christ, Jacopone da Todi. I haven't found a better explanation.
Full text: Julián Carrón Ratzinger's Cross.pdf