Pope Benedict sent a very strong message to the
College of Cardinals when he resigned.
First, the Papacy is really a very busy job, requiring
a lot of travel, and has a very busy schedule. Electing
a man in his 70's to this job almost certainly guarantees
that the new Pope will not be able to serve very long, or
very well, due to the infirmities of age. Therefore, by
emphasizing his age and physical weakness, the Holy
Father is telling the cardinals to elect a strong, younger
man, who can serve long and well.
Second, most Papal elections take several weeks.
Please note the timing of this Pope's resignation. It takes
effect on Feb. 28th. By the rules of the Vatican, the
conclave to elect the next Pope must start 15 to 20 days
after this resignation takes effect. That would be March
15th, or no later than March 20th.
Lent has already started. No Cardinal is going to want to
be absent from his Diocese on Good Friday, and especially
not Easter. Palm Sunday is March 24th, Good Friday is March
29th, and Easter is March 31st.
If the Cardinals want to be back home for Holy Week, then
they cannot spend two weeks dithering over who to pick to
be the next Pope. Pope Benedict is forcing them to act with
This enclave should be over in 4 or 5 days.