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Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation refers to the 265th pope’s abdication from his papacy in February 2013. The pope’s resignation was widely covered by online and TV news media outlets and sparked various speculations surrounding his motive on social networking and microblogging services.
On February 11th, 2013, the Italian news site Ansa reported that Pope Benedict XVI would resign by the end of the month due to age-related health issues. The same day, the Vatican released the full text of the pope’s resignation on the Radio Vaticana website:
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
Bendict XVI’s resignation was the first time a Pope had voluntarily left the papacy since Gregory XII in 1415, who quit to end a civil war in the church.
News Media Coverage
On February 11th, 2013, the Vatican’s announcement was reported by several news media outlets, including The BBC,CBS, The New York Times,USA Today, The Washington Post,CNN, The Guardian and Fox News. The same day, ABC News published an article introducing seven cardinals of the Catholic Church that could potentially become the next Pope. Also on February 11th, The Telegraph published an article speculating a possible succession by the first black Pope, noting that the church may consider Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana or Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria to further their involvement in the developing world.
On February 11th, 2013, Redditor realmenwearkilts submitted an image macro to the /r/atheism subreddit, featuring a photoshopped picture of Pope Benedict XVI wearing a Scumbag Hat miter, accompanied by the caption “‘Chosen by God’ / Quits” (shown below). Within seven hours, the post received over 19,900 up votes and 1,000 comments.
Several hours later, an “Official Pope Thread” was created in the /r/Christianity subreddit, which served as a depository for all news articles, discussions and speculations about the Pope’s resignation and his successor. Within eight hours, the post received over 720 up votes and 540 comments. The same day, the keyword “Pope” became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, with many users expressing dismay, taking the opportunity to criticize the church or tweeting jokes about the resignation. Round-up compilations of people’s reactions on Twitter were subsequently published on the Internet news blog UpRoxx and The Wall Street Journal’s Dispatch blog.
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
Sad ☹. Pope Benedict is resigning on Feb 28. His writings were enlightening and a great inspiration to many… Thank you Pope Benedict XVI ♥
— Kara David (@karadavid) February 11, 2013
Hang on. Pope is resigning vis he’s “too old”. Not for presiding over the largest organised cover up of child abuse, anywhere. Ever.
— Abie Philbin Bowman (@AbiePB) February 11, 2013
At 2 p.m. (Eastern Time) on February 28th, Benedict XVI formally stepped down from his papacy and relocated to Castel Gandolfo, the papal retreat located fifteen miles away from his old home in Rome. As the pope left the Vatican, the Catholic church issued the last tweet on the pope’s short-lived Twitter account @Pontifex.
Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.
#ReplaceAnimeTitlesWithPope and #ReplaceMovieTitlesWithPope
During the second week of March 2013, hashtags #ReplaceAnimeTitlesWithPope and #ReplaceMovieTitlesWIthPope began circulating on Twitter, in which anime titles and movie titles were tweeted with a single word replaced by “Pope." On March 13th, #ReplaceMovieTitlesWithPope became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, with over 64,000 mentions that day according to the Twitter analytics site Topsy.
New Pope Selected
On March 13th, 2013, the Associated Press reported that white smoke rose out a smokestack at the Sistine Chapel (shown below), indicating that the Catholic conclave had elected the 266th pope.
An hour later, the Vatican announced that 76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina had been selected as the successor and will be sworn as Pope Francis I. Bergoglio is the first non-European pope that the Catholic Church has seen in over 1,000 years. Immediately following the announcement, Redditor Fudgeberrypie submitted a post to the /r/worldnews subreddit linking to a BBC article about the new pope, which received over 6,400 up votes and 2,000 comments in the next hour. The same day, The New Yorker published a satirical article joking that the Vatican apologized for the white smoke, saying they were just burning documents and legal evidence. Also on March 13th, YouTuber boogie2988 uploaded a video complaining that the pope was using his name (shown below).