Well, you got your pope pennants, buttons, your pope clothes,
You got your pope binoculars to see him up close
And I cried when I saw that man in white;
I cried, much to my surrounders' delight.
I cried, 'cause I couldn’t breathe anymore; I cried
'cause people were stepping on my feet.
Hey, hey Mr. Holiness way over there,
Maybe we love you, but we're sadly lacking air.
Then he scooted away in that great Popemobile
I was feeling so trampled, I didn’t know what else to feel — Meryn Cadell, The Pope
@Pontifex", the name under which he trolls millions of Twitter followers—announced he will be "stepping down" or "resigning" or "abdicating" or "renouncing the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of St Peter" or whatever we all decide to call it when the dust settles (because we're not even close to an agreement today) at the end of February. The last Pope to resign or abdicate or...look, I'm just going to say "resign" and leave it at that, ok?...anyhow, the last Pope to leave before he died was Gregory XII—and he hardly had a real choice in the matter because the Papal Schism in the Catholic Church was just coming to a head at the time. That was in 1415, or nearly six hundred years ago; the last to quit "willingly" was over one hundred years earlier: Celestine V in 1294. Ironically, the last thing he did as Supreme Pontiff was to issue a decree which made it permissible for a Pope to resign...and then did so himself, prompting Dante to roundly condemn him in his The Divine Comedy. It is a bit odd, though, that Benny Sixteen is only the second Pope to take Celestine up on that offer in over seven hundred years. In fact, he's one of only a handful to have ever quit the post, but the second Benedict (IX in 1245) to do so. When you consider that his immediate predecessor was shot but didn't give up the ship, it's a bit tough to have a lot of sympathy for his claim that he's too "old and frail" to continue, even if you accept that as the truth.
What I'll do to round out this piece is pass along a few of my favourites of the myriad jokes and other comments I read today that are de rigeur after this type of seismic social event.
The innocent explanation may be that the Pope just wants to spend more time with other people's grandchildren.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) February 11, 2013
Men in dresses who hate women & gays deciding who'll speak for a fictional God. It'd be comical if it weren't a summary of recorded history.
— Pope Shakey (@PopeShakey) February 11, 2013
Am I the only one who thinks "the Pope resigned" sounds like a euphemism for ED? #AskingForAFriend
— Dr. Gonzo (@gonzopolecon) February 11, 2013
hey do you think we could retire organized religion while we're at it just asking for those regularly oppressed by it and/or killed for it
— Rachel (@rachelmack) February 11, 2013
There were several variations of the "Pope asplode because Twitter" theme:
The Pope is hardly the first person to lose interest in their real job so soon after joining Twitter.
— Sixth Form Poet (@sixthformpoet) February 11, 2013
I feel like the Pope was poping along pretty good there, and then he joined twitter and was like, "People are sick, screw this noise."
— Guy Endore-Kaiser (@GuyEndoreKaiser) February 11, 2013
I loved this shoutout to The Prisoner because I am that nerdy:
Just found out when a Pope resigns, he’s issued a number and sent to an island where big balloons chase him.
— Alan Spencer (@MrAlanSpencer) February 12, 2013
There were nearly infinite iterations of the "good Catholics always pull out early" joke:
At least the Pope has pulled out early like a good Catholic.— W (@WWarped) February 12, 2013
One of my favourite writers, Ed Keenan, cleverly used the opportunity to take a shot across the bow of Tweedle Rob:
Premier McGuinty, Pope Benedict, Andrew Crystal: surprise resignations are all the rage! It'd be a good spring look for some mayors, too.
— Edward Keenan (@thekeenanwire) February 11, 2013
And then there was this image, splashed all over the internet today, of lightning striking the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, just moments after the Pope announced his resignation....
...at which point the Popemobile™, having reached a speed of 88 mph with a full Flux Capacitor, vanished from view, leaving two fiery tire tracks in its wake. Good luck in 1955, Your Popitude! I'm sure you'll fit right in.
***If you'd like to hear the entire song The Pope by Meryn Cadell, written after Pope John Paul II's (although she does mistakenly call him John Paul III) 1984 visit to Canada (Toronto, specifically), here it is: