For aging religious leaders, is it still ’till death us do part’?

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Syracuse University requested the special seating for the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, who spoke on campus Monday (Oct. 8), and it’s obvious he enjoyed the spacious accommodations. As he should. The red leather and wood Stickley chair was made especially for him — three times. Credit: RNS photo courtesy The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.

Syracuse University requested the special seating for the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, who spoke on campus Monday (Oct. 8), and it’s obvious he enjoyed the spacious accommodations. As he should. The red leather and wood Stickley chair was made especially for him — three times. Credit: RNS photo courtesy The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.

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(RNS) When aging religious leaders reach the top echelons of temporal and spiritual power, their followers have a certain expectation: Till death us do part. But Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation has shifted that calculus, prompting introspection about when, if and how to let go of religion's senior management.