The Pope Pulls Out

For the first time in more than 600 years, a Pope is retiring before death.

Who knew the big story coming out of the Vatican today would involve old age?!

I guess he was just saying goodbye this whole time.

Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who took office in 2005 following the death of his predecessor, said on Monday that he would resign on Feb. 28…

A profoundly conservative figure whose papacy was overshadowed by sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, the pope, 85, said that after examining his 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 his position as head of the world’s Roman Catholics.

He could have been talking about the Church itself: Out of date, out of touch, and in dire need of calling it quits.

So now we know: it’s too exhausting trying to cover up child abuse scandals, making life hell for gay people, going on Twitter, and promoting false/harmful doctrine all at once.

Even with somebody else at the helm, it’s hard to see how anything will really change. The Church loves the status quo and it’s hard to see how any new man at the helm will steer them any differently.

Note to Justice Antonin Scalia, a man who is 76, fervently Catholic, and also holds a life term: Take the hint. It’s ok to step down.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • observer

    Of all the titles you could’ve used… =_=

  • Robert Klauka

    Here’s the most important line from the Pope’s resignation: “shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith”…he’s lost his faith in his god.

  • EllenBeth Wachs

    I think it’s rather amusing AND appropriate.

  • DKeane123

    Loved the title.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I can’t help but wonder if there’s about to be a huge scandal in the child rapist ring that used to be the Catholic Church.

  • nicoline

    I sent him a tweet (@pontifex) to say good riddance & I hope they prosecute your ass off :-) Phrased a little more politely than that, but still.

  • jediofpool

    There was a certain rhythm to it.

  • The Other Weirdo

    I thought God Himself chose the next Pope. That’s the way a Catholic ex-girlfriend of mine explained it to me years ago. Something to do with a wisp of smoke. Sounded dodgy even then, but I didn’t question it because… well, you know, girlfriend…

    Note to Justice Antonin Scalia, a man who is 76, fervently Catholic, and also holds a life term: Take the hint. It’s ok to step down.

    Would you ever say that to a person with whom you agreed on various issues?

  • Houndentenor

    Anyone that involved in the cover-up of child rapists who wasn’t in the clergy would be in prison now. He’s a criminal and should be treated as such by the world.

  • Tainda

    “The Pope pulls out”

    That never works. Only abstinence…

  • DavidMHart

    Thus making the old rhetorical-question cliche “Is the Pope Catholic?” a genuine question.

  • Baby_Raptor

    If there was reason to, I imagine he would Hemant hasn’t really shown much in the way of hypocrisy.

  • stojadinovicp
  • Ubi Dubium

    I was already singing that all morning!

  • Slow Learner

    I popped over to the Pope’s page on wikipedia, only to find it doesn’t mention his cover-ups and obstruction of justice at all! In fact it praises him for taking child rape seriously and working to eliminate it from the Church…can anyone with wiki-cred take a look?

  • Russ Painter

    I’m gonna miss the Nazi Pope. At least he was good for a laugh. But who knows, maybe the next one has his own van full of candy.

  • Glasofruix

    same here

  • Santiago

    From The Guardian:

    “Kung called the step “understandable for many reasons”. The 84-year-old, who worked with Benedict in southern Germany in the 1960s, added: “It is to be hoped however, that Ratzinger will not exercise an influence on the choice of his successor.”

    He repeated his past criticisms of the pope, saying: “During his time in office he has ordained so many conservative cardinals, that amongst them is hardly a single person to be found who could lead the church out of its multifaceted crisis.”

  • Carpinions

    Exactly my reaction when I read the headline this morning. Too frail? Ratzinger looks downright young and sprightly compared to JP2, who was practically pontificating from the grave.

  • Santiago

    “Would you ever say that to a person with whom you agreed on various issues?”

    I thought that too.

  • Fletch999
  • NickDB

    Yes, if the situation called for it. Probably be able to say it to someone I agree with easier than someone I disagree with. Going by his track record I’d say Hemant would be able to too.

  • Cecelia Baines

    I dug up a couple news stories from Euro magazines (Le Monde and an Oslo newspaper) that Euro/Interpol have been increasing their investigations on the Vatican and if/how a standing Pope can be arrested.

    Something is breaking for sure and the Pope, especially THIS Pope has been forced out to do damage control before the next bigger shoe drops.

  • Cecelia Baines

    WHAT! You are akin to the Catholics and BSA leaders who make the same claims about their clubs. Hemant has shown and continues to show tremendous hypocrisy, but like the religious apologists, Hemant too rationalizes away at his digressions.

    Perhaps some water instead of Kool-Aid?

  • Holytape

    Wait, wait…. I’ve seen this before. It’s a trap. Pope Benedict is just resigning the papacy as we know it. He’ll disband the College of Cardinals, and declare himself Emperor Pope Benedict. He’ll the build a giant Death Eucharist, and blow up the home churches of the damn rebel protestant churches.

  • Holytape

    Would you ever say that to a person with whom you agreed on various issues?

    Why would you? That’s not a hypocritical statement. If he had said that Scalia has to step down because of his age, and then ignores Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg, that would be hypocritical. However, nicely asking someone, with whom you disagree with, to retire, while not suggesting it of other is not being a hypocrite. Heck, I’ll go one further, Scalia, Roberts, Thomas and Alito should all step down so that they can enjoy playing shuffle board in a retirement community in Miami with the pope.

  • Haha USA

    We should forget the call to “Sell the Vatican, feed the world.”

  • Haha USA

    Dawkins (et al) were onto this 2.5 years ago… I hope the seeds they sowed have lead to a victory…

  • MD

    So now another hyper-conservative asswipe will be chosen by the hysterical posse that is College of Cardinals. Hurray.

    The question that really matters is: will Emperor Palpatine jokes still be applicable?

  • Big MrE

    It says much about the church today that the first thing from my somewhere-between-culturally-catholic and ex-catholic wife was “Did you hear the pope is resigning? I wonder what the big scandal will be?” I’m glowing with pride at her cynicism.

  • coyotenose

    It might be the Soma and VIcodin talking, but that post title seems over the top even to me. Doesn’t the man deserve even a little more respect than that?*

    *Wait… no, no he doesn’t.

  • coyotenose

    FUCK but that sudden laugh hurt. Damn this sprain!

  • WallofSleep

    The pope is an onanist? Who knew?

  • coyotenose

    In your world, understanding that errors and trangressions are not all equal counts as hypocrisy.

    Also in your world, mocking Special Olympians and people forced to work retail to eat doesn’t count as being an asshole.

    Your world is pretty shitty.

  • C Peterson

    Once the last rat has jumped from the sinking ship, all that leaves are the cockroaches to run things…

  • Cecelia Baines

    Sure sweetheart, you up above talk about being on Soma and Vicoden, work a retail job and are among the most bitter bitches on this blog!

    But again, by all means, build a strawman to distract from your sycophantic worship of Hemant instead of actually looking at facts. Good job.

  • baal

    Popes don’t just resign. This is the first in some 700 years or somesuch. On one hand, I wonder if there is a shoe to drop. It might be something else like someone did a poll on the Pope and found that “Bennie the Rat” was his primary moniker and that he personally was tied to the hemorrhaging of catholics in the eight years. If it’s the former, we’ll get another ultra-conservative ghoul. If it’s the later, I expect the vote of the cardinals to go to a younger and more charismatic ghoul.

  • Glasofruix

    I don’t know, but someone like you talking about facts has something funny to it.

  • Kirby_G

    Why doesn’t God give him strength to continue?

    I mean, he’s God’s primary most holy representative on earth, right? You’d think that it would be in God’s best interest to keep him healthy and make an example…

  • Daniel Brown

    It’s early… but I think you’ve won the award for best headline regarding this news.

  • Rainer Alföldi

    Arrgghhh… You just ruined my day. “The pope pulled out”!?? Now how am I going to get that picture out of my head?!

  • Rich Wilson

    You sound like a reporter.

  • blasphemous_kansan

    Can you help me out for a second? I’ve been trying to figure out some pattern of words that appear in an article on this blog that cause your foaming mechanism to kick in, and causes you to start shouting “HYPOCRISY!!!! BRAAAAAGGHH!!” like some angry thing.

    From what I can see, it happens whenever the author has an opinion, or makes an off-the-cuff remark, about any public persona that they don’t immediately qualify as applying to some other hypothetical person who holds opposing beliefs. And that not addressing this specific concern is equal to ‘rationalizing the hypocrisy’, or something? Then the kool-aid jokes and making fun of the disabled starts?
    You’re just so incredibly angry sometimes….

  • Thegoodman

    I hope they automatically eliminate future candidates if they have been involved with either the Nazi Party or child abuse cover ups. Unfortunately I’m like 90% all pope-hopefuls are catholic priests so its going to be tough to find one that fits my very strict criteria.

  • The Other Weirdo

    And the Emperor Palpatine jokes were myriad. A bonus, to be sure, one we will miss.

  • GloomCookie613

    If you happen to have the time and inclination, I’d love to check out those articles. Or would they be found easily with a google search? :)

  • pagansister

    If I am correct, hasn’t Benny packed the College of Cardinals with his own people? If so, the next royal will be just another conservative dude who will continue to keep the Church in the dark ages.

  • pagansister

    (hand waving) “So long, Fare well, Adios, and just plain “BYE” !

  • chicago dyke

    and Hemant wins the Internets for the day with the best title to this story evah! massive lol.

    yore so going to hiyall! hee.

  • chicago dyke


    jeebus. it must be… really awful.

  • chicago dyke

    well, we all know Hemant doesn’t know jack from shit about design. ;-)

  • Rich Wilson

    And the Internet of the Day award has just be re-awarded.

  • Rich Wilson

    I was trying to find that clip from The Fifth Element where that Mangalore trying to pass as a human is trying to hold it in, but he can’t, and various features keep popping out. At least I think it was in that movie. I’m quite enjoying my popcorn and show Cecelia, thanks! :-)

  • RobMcCune

    that cause your foaming mechanism to kick in, and causes you to start shouting “HYPOCRISY!!!! BRAAAAAGGHH!!”

    I wouldn’t look too deeply into it, she’s more BRAAAAAGHH than human now.

  • RobMcCune

    I’m surprised you’re not ranting about sheeple yet, I miss that term from my days of debating antivaxxers.

  • RobMcCune

    Perhaps some water instead of Kool-Aid?

    You’re not going to start going on about how Kool-Aid poisons your “precious bodily fluids” are you?

  • Glasofruix

    If he believed in gawd’s protection, he wouldn’t be rolling in a bullet proof aquarium.

  • blasphemous_kansan

    That is so perfect, it’s beyond words. Sometimes I really enjoy Cecilia’s comments, but then other times…..well the Corbin Dallas disguise just doesn’t hold up!

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • Bdole

    “The Pope Pulls Out”

    It’s not like prepubescent boys and girls can get pregnant.

  • LifeinTraffic

    I had the exact same thought when I read the news this morning.

  • alconnolly

    Somehow when I read this news i could see someone having a little chat ending with. So if you don’t want that to be front page headlines around the globe you will announce you resignation immediately. Every statement from catholic hierarchy including his closest aides was that they were completely surprised by this decision.

  • Richard Wade

    While it’s a tantalizing idea, I don’t think he’s talking about his own faith being shaken. Look at the whole sentence:

    In today’s world,” Benedict said in his announcement, “subject to so
    many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the
    life of faith, in order to govern the bark of St. 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.”

    He’s saying that today’s world is shaken by these questions. He’s not saying that he is shaken by these questions. He’s essentially saying that he can’t keep up with the rapid pace of change and the power of the change. His “bark of St. Peter is running down a raging, white water river and his piloting skills are woefully inadequate.

    For the next pope, I expect the cardinals will pick someone among themselves who has the best skills in public relations rather than the strongest and most enduring faith.

  • Holytape

    Do not worry. For while Darth Benedict, the master, may be retiring, his apprentice, Darth to-be-named-latter-by-a-puff-of-white-smoke, will take over. The dark side is not so easily stopped.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Only in how they relate to a long, smooth shaft with a surprise at the bottom end of it.

  • Pattrsn

    He’s more BRAAAAGHH than human

  • The Other Weirdo

    Wait! Are you saying that asking someone you disagree with to step down because of age while not asking someone you agree with to step down because of age is not hypocritical?

  • The Other Weirdo

    Yes, that’s the movie.

  • Mario Strada

    That’s the first thing that came to mind. A lot easier on the Church if he is not the standing pope.

  • guest

    Luke (3:22)… I am your father


  • jdm8

    Exactly. I had the impression that they had a two wheel furniture dolly to move JP2 around, like he was a living statue.

  • A3Kr0n

    There there don’t be sad. They’ll find another…

  • Ubi Dubium

    Papam tuam sum? (I’m too rusty on my Latin!)

  • Stev84

    It really means that he has said that people listen to the Vatican less and less and that they can’t easily dictate their so-called “morals” to everyone. He has railed against the evils of secularism frequently because it’s a threat to their hegemony

  • latraviata

    He wants to spend more time with his children?

  • Carmelita Spats

    This is huge news in Catholic Mexico…Ratzinger was not liked as much as Wojtyla…Two weeks before Ratzinger visited Mexico, the Vatican sent a creepy effigy of John Paul II, in a glass casket, to tour Mexico…It was hilarious, kinda like that 80′s movie, “Weekend at Bernie’s”…Catholics lined up for HOURS to see the plastic figure stuffed in a glass coffin and kiss the coffin…This was the shifty Vatican’s “warm up” show. They were hoping that the Mexican public would welcome Ratzinger as they had Wojtyla…It didn’t work…The Mexican Catholic Church was still reeling from the horrendous pedophile scandal involving the head of the Legionarios de Cristo: Father Marcial Maciel. JPII and Ratzinger protected Maciel.

  • Holytape

    Where exactly does it say that Scalia should or has to retire solely because of his age? Oh wait it doesn’t. Hemant Mehta is just saying that it is okay to retire from a position that most people think is a life time appointment.

    Also, I would hazard a guess, that Mr. Mehta like me, wants Scalia to retire, not because he is old, but because he is a regressive asshole.

    Reading comprehension helps.

  • Timothy (TRiG)

    If I remember Vicars of Christ correctly, the youngest pope in history was 14. I suspect that whatever we see, it won’t be the youngest pope in history.


  • LutherW

    I think he is not destined for the old sinners home…he is heading to the other place…the Children’s Home.

  • Uncle Bobolink’s Kid

    If only atheists had political control of this planet.

    Then people would know whats what!
    Atheists make the best leaders, You can trust them.

  • Chris B

    That’s what makes me sad.

  • Sokratez

    Hey Benedict, don’t let the altar boys hit you on the ass on your way out.

  • roberthughmclean

    Here’s a opportunity for Apple-The I Pope! This pope is programable through a series of aps to express what ever you favourite hate is. After putting in the batteries, download the chosen ap to the I Pope and watch the pontificating commence. Hate gays? Check. Have a lust for underage boys? Check. Love really silly hats and equally insidious dogma? Check. It’s all here and affordable too! Visit:

  • roberthughmclean

    Jees I didn’t expect that to be an actual link. I don’t know where it goes??

  • Keulan

    I’d like to see the Catholic Church choose a more liberal, less traditional pope this time. Maybe one who won’t lie about condoms to Africans, and cover up for pedophile priests, and blame gays and secularism for all the evils of the world. Pffft. That’s not gonna happen. I predict the next pope will be more of the same crap as the current Pope Palpatine.

  • Richard Wade

    Holy smoke. Poor kid. Makes me think of Tutankhamun being under the control of his vizier and eventual successor his whole short life.

  • Korou
  • Tyro Kathar

    +1 re: Scalia ^_^