From Cardinal Hummes' interview with Vatican Insider on the first anniversary of the announcement of Benedict XVI's resignation. Emphasis ours.
[Cardinal Hummes] is a theologian so of course he knew it was possible for a Pope to resign, he knew Roman Canon Law allows it and he was aware of Ratzinger having mentioned it on a number of occasions . “But in practice it seemed impossible after 600 years.”
“Benedict XVI’s resignation “was completely unexpected,” Hummes stressed. The reasons given for his resignation were unusual. “Only a Pope like Benedict XVI could have made a gesture of this kind, because it takes a very rational mind to do it, as well as great faith and a deeply holy life, in order to leave everything in God’s hands. And he - Ratzinger - is that kind of man.
From that moment on things started to change at such a speed that even a veteran of Church government like the Archbishop of São Paulo – formerly Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy from 2006-2010 – is still left speechless. Pope Francis’ election and the signs he sent out right from the start meant “new doors opened as old ones closed.” Things have changed “so fast and in such a wonderful way. People were happy, they started to have faith in the Church again, they realised they could get through this difficult moment and this faith, this hope have not gone away.” There is still a crisis, Hummes admitted, “but it is being dealt with in a positive way and the scandals need to be cleared up, but now people have faith.”
Cardinal Claudio Hummes, OFM, was Prefect of the Congregation of Clergy from 2006 to 2010, under Benedict XVI.