Vatican City---Pope Benedict ⅩⅥ⁻ tweeted an oblique farewell to his 1,622,248 followers today and exited the Papal Palace amid cheers and celebration. His resignation officially takes effect at 8 p.m. Vatican Time (2 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Central).
The pope's decision to retire in this fashion is extremely irregular and carries significant theological and safety concerns. There is no known procedure for reversing the papal consecration process, which binds heavenly force within the temporal flesh of the host. The optimal method of resignation by a pope therefore is death, whereupon his mortal remains are interred within a lead-shielded coffin as a precaution against the effects of catholytic decomposition. The pre-death scenario is decidedly less favorable, and requires the outgoing pontiff, or , to maintain a physical distance of at least 50 meters (164 feet) or risk annihilating with his successor. This notably occurred in 1294 when Celestine Ⅴ⁻ and Boniface Ⅷ⁺ inadvertently collided. The ecclesiovacuum produced by the encounter, called the , lasted for two centuries and necessitated the temporary relocation of the papal residence to the city of Avignon, France.