Ed Peters agrees that talk of a mandatory papal retirement age is silly, that since the Pope is the supreme legislator of the Church, there is no person or body with the authority to require that he step down. Even if a pope were to pass such a law, his successor only has to repeal it.
Speaking of retirement, the Pope missed Ash Wednesday Mass at the Vatican for the first time today. He’s still very frail. According to Inside the Vatican magazine, the Pope was within ten minutes of death when he was rushed to the hospital on February 1. (The whole article is a fascinating inside look at the actual events that night.) The Pope has surprised us before, falling very ill before bouncing back, almost miraculously, but even for him there will one day be no bounce back. At 84-years-old, rapidly approaching 85, with a number of serious ailments, it’s likely to be sooner than later. I’ll be happy to be surprised, but I suspect I won’t be.