Retired Pope Benedict XVI greets Pope Francis at the conclusion of a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 22. Pope Benedict's presence at the ceremony marked the first time he had joined Pope Francis for a public liturgy. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

ANALYSIS: The surprising afterlife of Pope Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY (RNS) When Pope Benedict XVI officially left the Vatican in a helicopter a year ago this week (Feb. 28), becoming the first pontiff in 600 years to resign, many in his conservative fan base were aghast, even angry. He has betrayed us, said those who thought Benedict’s papacy would be the final triumph of old-school Catholicism. He has undermined the papacy itself, they worried. Lightning even struck the cupola of St.