Twitter seems to have come alive to the news that Pope Benedict is set to resign at the end of February. The news was confirmed by his holiness’ spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.
The BBC is reporting that the 85-year-old religious leader announced his decision in Latin, during a meeting of Vatican cardinals.
Benedict is the 265th pope and the sixth from Germany. He is however the first German to lead the church since the 11th century. He is also the first pope to resign since 1415.
It was not immediately clear why Benedict had chosen to resign, although emerging details from his speech suggest that it is down to his advanced age:
“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,” the pope said.
The papal seat will remain vacant until a successor is chosen.
Given how quickly the news came after the pope got an official Twitter campaign, it’s unsurprising that the announcement gained massive traction on the social network, trending globally as details of the resignation were still emerging:
In fact, there were more than a few references to him joining Twitter:
As soon as the Pope joined twitter, i knew it was the beginning of the end. #pontifex
— Michele (@haymakers) February 11, 2013
— Rune Stahl(@RuneStahl) February 11, 2013
Was it setting up his Twitter page that proved too much for him? #pontifex
— Helen A Hutchinson (@helhutch77) February 11, 2013
— icknos (@icknos) February 11, 2013
— Andrew Bryant (@Optimaximal) February 11, 2013
— Pit Wenkin (@PitWenkin) February 11, 2013
— Níamh Saoirse Casey (@HailHail_1888) February 11, 2013
There were other techie jokes:
— Alec Muffett (@AlecMuffett) February 11, 2013
At least one person made reference to Benedict’s resemblance to Emperor Palaptine from the Star Wars franchise:
Emperor Palpatine resigns! Has this got something to do with Disney buying the Star Wars franchise? #pontifex
— Azza March (@AronMarch) February 11, 2013
Another tweeted about what the pope’s retirement benefits he might be getting:
— derek nagle (@dereknagle) February 11, 2013
This guy compared the Catholic Church to a rock band losing its lead singer:
Pope resigns to spend more time working on solo material. #pontifex
— Alex Dale (@typofoto) February 11, 2013
There was reference to the demands of the job:
It is hard working kneeling down to keep kissing tarmac. #pontifex
— Anne-Marie (@mariemarie22) February 11, 2013
Someone also made reference to Simon Cowell’s propensity for capitalising on every opportunity possible:
— John H (@JohnH_MEL) February 11, 2013