After nearly eight years on the throne of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world when he announced on Monday he would be resigning at the leader of 1 billion Roman Catholics on Feb. 28.
He has become the first pope to step down from his position in six centuries, new reports cited.
A small group of cardinals gathered in the Vatican on Monday, and the Pope said to them in Latin:
“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 ministry.
His fellow cardinals elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope in 2005 after Pope John Paul II died.
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The New York Times reported that the pope appeared to be dozing off during Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and other rumors swirled that he might be suffering from dementia.
But British journalist Piers Morgan, now a CNN host, thinks there’s another reason the pope is resigning, other than his health.
“As a Catholic, I'm not buying this. Popes don't just quit because they're tired. What's going on here??” His post has been retweeted more than 2,000 times.
Former “Saved by the Bell" star and television host Mario Lopez tweeted:
“I woke up and the Pope quit?! 600 years since the last one quit... What's going on at the Vatican?? During a Holy time too...#Catholic.”
The Twitter account Sixth Form Poet wrote one of the most popular posts of the day, shared more than 6,000 times:
“The Pope is hardly the first person to lose interest in their real job so soon after joining Twitter.”
Pregnant actress Kristen Bell, best known for her role in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” was shocked when she first heard the news, writing:
“The pope quit??!!” She had a quick change in attitude and then posted:
“Somehow, even without the pope, I think we are all gonna be juuuust fine :)” and shared an adorable picture of a baby gorilla that was just born in a Melbourne zoo.
Others took it upon themselves to nominate a papal candidate.
The "American Horror Story" Twitter account, whose latest season took place in an insane asylum ran by the Roman Catholic Church, suggested Monsignor Timothy Howard, one of the show’s regular characters, as pope.
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton shared that he’d be happy with famous talk show host Oprah Winfrey becoming the next pope.
“Can we change the rules and fast-track that?” He asked.
Radio talk show host Howard Stern announced he’d be running for pope and gained the backing of “Scrubs” actor Zach Braff.
“’[RT]@HowardStern: Yes, it's true that i'm running for pope.’ Ill vote for you, Howard.”