1) he is the first Pope for several hundred years to resign
2) his predecessor was the second longest serving Pope in history
For those of us young enough to not remember a time before Pope John Paul II, the 8-year reign of Benedict XVI feels particularly brief. I then wondered: how many years on average does a Pope reign?
The average duration turns out to be... 7.3 years (median of 6 years). Additionally, there's no strong increase in length of reign over time. In other words: despite lifespans increasing, Popes still tend to have a short tenure. It appears Benedict XVI really isn't too far off the average!
I then thought to compare these numbers with another distinguished group of (historically) men: Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Fun fact: there have been a total of (including those currently serving/reigning) 113 Supreme Court Judges, 264 Popes. These justices have an average service on the bench of 16.4 years (median 16 years)!
To compare these two populations of people, I have reverse-sorted their durations of service in to cumulative distributions. The way to read this diagram is: 60% of Popes reign 10 or more years, and less than 20% of Popes serve 20 years or more. By contrast, 65% of Justices serve 20 years or more.
|Cumulative distribution for the years of service of Popes and US Supreme Court Justices.|
Some people were curious about the raw distributions of Popes vs Justices...