It was announced today that Benedetto XVI, Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff will abdicate the Petrine throne at the end of this month. Such a thing has not be done for many hundreds of years and even then it was the cause of great controversy. Already the preparations are being made for the next conclave to elect a new pontiff. The news took everyone by surprise as, despite the weakening that comes naturally to a man of his age, the Pope is still able to get around and still has a very sharp mind. He has done invaluable work in reminding people what is important, nudging the Church back in a more traditional direction and yet has broken with tradition in a big way with this announcement. It remains to be seen how Benedetto XVI will be remembered. Will he be known to history as the Pope who upheld traditional teaching or the Pope who quit? The speculation has also already begun about who will be elected next. Everyone seems concerned with "firsts". Will we see the first "Black" pope? The first Canadian pope? Perhaps even the first American pope? Are the days of Italian pontiffs being the norm gone forever? As the Pope is first the Bishop of Rome it does not seem out of order to me that Italians have historically been chosen but, as the news of today shows, my views are certainly not those of the majority.