Navigate to News section

The Pope Formally Steps Down

Benedict XVI calls it quits, pledges fealty to his successor

Adam Chandler
February 28, 2013
Peace Out!(Max Rossi/Reuters)
Peace Out!(Max Rossi/Reuters)

Pope Benedict XVI is going for a less formal vibe this spring, with his resignation having formally taken effect at 8 p.m. Vatican City time, one can just call him Benedict.

And I suppose if you’re going to abdicate the papacy, this is how you might want to go out:

Benedict left the Vatican by helicopter on Thursday afternoon to spend the final hours of his scandal-dogged papacy and the first of his retirement at a summer residence used by popes for centuries. Onlookers in St. Peter’s Square cheered, church bells rang and Romans stood on rooftops to wave flags to see him off as he flew from Rome to the summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, a hilltop town southeast of the city. More carillons heralded his arrival there, and he was greeted by a vivid contingent of silver-suited firemen, gendarmes in red capes, and bishops in black and pink.

Carillons! Silver-suited fireman! Gendarmes in capes and pink-and-black bishops!

Benedict will now cool his heels at Castel Gandolfo for a few months before he returns to the Vatican to live in a convent “whose gardens offer a perfect view of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.” As heavenly parachutes go, not bad!

Mazel tov on the retirement!

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.