Pope Benedict – a resignation foretold, if you knew where to look

February 15, 2013

(Director Nanni Moretti (L) and cast member Michel Piccoli pose as they arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film “Habemus Papam” (We Have A Pope) in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 13, 2011. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier )

Pope Benedict’s resignation announcement on Monday shocked many in the Roman Catholic world and beyond, yet for those who know where to look, there were portents aplenty.

Take Nanni Moretti’s 2011 comedy-drama “Habemus Papam” – “We have a pope!” – in which a depressed and panic-stricken newly-elected pope escapes his Vatican minders for a few days before returning to announce, in his first address, that he doesn’t have what it takes for the job.

Benedict, 85, managed almost eight years before citing old age and deteriorating health on Monday to explain his decision to become the first pope in more than 700 years to resign willingly rather than die in office.

For a pope, he said, “both strength of mind and body are necessary”, going on to ask for “pardon for all my defects”.

The Italian Sky Cinema channel has not missed its chance to rerun “Habemus Papam”, where Michel Piccoli’s fictional pope says that “the Church needs a guide who has the strength to bring great changes”, and also asks for forgiveness.

Moretti, whose film had received a cool response from the Church, has been bombarded with calls from journalists.

“What am I supposed to say?” he told the daily La Repubblica, graciously admitting to being as amazed as everyone else by Benedict’s decision. “Every now and then cinema manages to anticipate reality.”

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