Both still have “short” pontificates though
On January 22, 2021, at 8 p.m., the duration of the pontificate of Pope Francis exceeded that of the pontificate of his predecessor Benedict XVI, which ended after 2,872 days on February 28, 2013. Comparatively speaking, both pontificates are still relatively short.
John Paul II (1978-2005) was pope for 9,665 days. The pontificate of the Polish pope is the third longest in history after that of Pius IX (over 31 years) and that of Saint Peter (between 34 and 37 years).
Francis and Benedict have occupied the Throne of Peter half as long as Popes Pius XII (1939-1958) and Pius XI (1922-1939). Pius XII, the pope of World War II, wore the white habit for 7,161 days, compared to 6,213 days for Pius XI, his predecessor.
The pontificate of Paul VI (1963-1978) is also longer than that of the two living popes. The pope who concluded the Second Vatican Council reigned for 5,526 days.
These four popes – John Paul II, Pius XII, Pius XI and Paul VI – can be considered to have had a “long pontificate,” that is to say of at least 10 years.
Three short pontificates also marked the 20th century: that of the pope of the First World War, Benedict XV (1914-1922), 2,698 days long, a few months less than the current pontiffs. That of the “good Pope” John XXIII (1958-1963) lasted 1,679 days.
And of course Pope John Paul I, whose pontificate was cut short by his sudden death after 34 days in 1978.
While the pontificate of Benedict XVI is rather short compared to others, he is the oldest pope (or the 2nd oldest pope) in history – even if he is no longer in office. According to some traditions, he is the second behind Pope Agatho (678-681), who died at the venerable age of 105. As Agatho only reigned for some two and a half years, if the tradition is true, it would mean he was elected as a centenarian.
Benedict XVI will turn 94 on April 16, 2021.
Benedict XVI passes Leo XIII in age
Pope Francis (age 84) would have to reign for more than 19 more years to “catch up” with John Paul II: if that were the case, he would then approach Pope Agatho and his venerable 105 years!