Pope XVI Resigns! A Beginner's Guide To What Happens Next

11 February 2013 by

Farewell then, Pope XVI, who has announced his resignation from his Vatican post. According to the Guardian, Pope Benedict's aides were ‘incredulous" when he told them he would step down. So what happened? Here’s our potted guide to who, what and when...

1. why? According to the Pontiff, his age means he lacks the strength to do the job. This seems fair enough – he is 85 and has arthritis.

2. who knew it was even possible to resign? Popes can, although few have. the most famous of all was 1045 Benedict IX who in 1045 ‘sold’ his papacy and stepped down. Still, Pope XVI is the first pope to resign in 600 years, which leads us nicely to...

3. who next? His successor is hotly tipped as Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson. He has been described as both a ‘tearaway’ and ‘charming’, although most notably if he is successful, he will be the first black pope.

We’ve over two weeks until Pope XVI officially leaves (on 28 February - one envisages a low-key party, maybe some desk banging, but defintitely some waving from the balcony) and as we all know, a lot can happen in two weeks. Here’s what the Twitterati are saying:

@piersmorgan The Queen's a year older than The Pope. Can't see her ever resigning because she's tired. #indefatigability1infallibility0

@PennyRed My application to be #Pope. "Dear Vatican, I have GCSE Latin and some great hats"

@dannywallace Maybe the Pope’s giving up for Lent.

@jackwhitehall Will the papacy now be foisted upon a younger pope with a stutter and a fear of public speaking #thepopesspeech

@Ed_Miliband Pope Benedict XVI will not have reached his decision to stand down lightly. His visit to the UK in 2010 was a special moment for many.

@Queen_UK No, Mr Clegg, you will not be needed to form a "coalition Pope" in Rome.

@simonpegg I bet he gets one really dangerous assignment, just before he retires, like a civil war or an exorcism. #pope






All posts must obey the house rules, if you object to any comments please let us know and we'll take the appropriate action.