Stretching back to the Apostle Peter, the papacy has been a near constant superpower that has outlived empires, survived world wars and shaped western history perhaps more than any other office. An incredible list of men have held the highest position of the Catholic church.
Nostalgic for his student days, Pope Benedict XVI has elected to pass out of history much as he stepped into it: blinking blindly at all the bright lights, never quite certain of how he got there, nor what he was supposed to do with the power he possessed.
Did Peter single-handedly assume control over the early Roman church with the idea that he was Christ's successor and that the Church would be the global epicenter of Christianity until the end of time? The answer will determine all else.