it's Wojtyla's ball, so we do it his way

The rules don't apply to the guy at the top.

It's all so absurd, from top to bottom, but there's a reason we're so attracted to the details.

Let's see, Roman Catholic Church rules require bishops to retire at the age of 75. The pope is historically and essentially the chief bishop, by virtue of his office as Bishop of Rome. That's the last position held by the disciple in whose charge it's reputed founder, Jesus, is said to have placed the organization before, or after, his early death. The current Bishop of Rome is 83.

Church rules also forbid cardinals (an honorific title given certain bishops) who are above 79 years of age from participating in the centuries-old tradition of electing one of their number to the office of pope. The current occupant of that office is himself 83 years old.

Wojtyla would have had to retire by now were he still only a bishop, and he would be ineligible to vote were he still only a cardinal, but in spite of very obvious deterioration he has not submitted his resignation, shows no inclination of doing so, and since reaching the age of 80 he (or perhaps others using his authority) has appointed a total of 74 cardinals on two occasions.

We are encouraged to believe that this pope is not like other mortals, not even like (his) bishops and (his) cardinals, who in truth actually function only as lackies and decorative tassels for an absolute, super-national monarch, not to say a fanatical cultist and tyrant.

Incidently, the current pope has exceeded rules promulgated by his predecessor, and which he himself has reaffirmed, that limit the size of the electoral conclave to 120. Wojtyla has increased the number of eligible voters in the College of Cardinals to 135, but has not changed the conclave voting rules, suggesting there may be charges ["cardinal" or secondary] of voting irregularities should he die soon. Even if he has personally picked all but 5 of the 135 electors, largely on the basis of their conservative or reactionary politics, the next election might be more exciting than Florida or california.

Except as entertainment or as a regular and delicious treat for a history buff, none of this would be of any interest to me or most of the world if what happens to Catholics did not impact us all. Unfortunately it very much does. The disaster that is the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and in fact the entire business model, is also a disaster for the world.