Benedict XVI's announcement couldn't have been better scripted. Two days before Lent, Christianity's 40-day season of penitential reflection, the Pope announced he's quitting his job, with a new pope promised by Easter, the day of resurrection.
Lovely imagery for the Roman Catholic Church, which Benedict has ruled for almost eight years.
It is also an institution he leaves largely polarized between its progressive and ultra-conservative factions, as well as roiled over abusive priests, liturgy, gender and sexuality, and unsure of what binds its very different hemispheric halves.
The leaders of the church, with its more than one billion adherents, will need reflection — and some will say penitential reflection — to determine where it goes next.
The first pope to resign in 600 years, Benedict leaves the helm of an institution that he has successfully, after a fashion, held together, not as a charismatic leader like his predecessor, John Paul II, but as a kind of wise elder and teacher.