Pope Benedict XVI faced his people at the Vatican today for the first time since bucking tradition and straight-up quitting on Monday, but no one seemed mad: He received a standing ovation from the 8,000 faithful, the New York Times reports.
The pope told the crowd that he was “well aware of the seriousness of this act, but also aware of the fact that I am no longer capable of carrying out Peter’s Ministry with the strength needed.” He’s sticking around long enough to kick off the Easter season, and will deliver Ash Wednesday mass today, but he’s giving up the papacy for Lent and beyond.
A replacement is expected to be chosen by Easter, on March 31, but that won’t end the complications that come with the first resignation by a pope in six centuries. According to Vatican officials, they’re still not sure what Benedict will be called or what will happen with his papal ring, a.k.a. “the ring of the fisherman,” used to seal important letters. It looks like this is typically destroyed upon a pope’s death to prevent Dan Brown novels:
The Times also notes the “potentially awkward logistics of having a former pope and his successor share a backyard” when Benedict moves to a Vatican convent. We imagine they’ll just wave and talk about the weather, like everyone else.