Reaction To Pope's Resignation A Mixture Of Shock, Jokes, And Admiration

Speculation is beginning to rise over the state of the 88-year-old's health.

Pope Benedict XVI's shock announcement this morning that he was resigning at the end of the month has completely dominated the Twittersphere this morning (in Italy, he was being run a close second by #justinbieberisthebestidolever).

First came the jokes, as the news had caught all the world leaders, BAFTA winners, and Grammy attendees either napping or sleeping off their hangovers.

See what Gareth did there? Although, it should be pointed out that the only person aware of the Pontiff's feelings was his brother Georg, who had known "for months" that the leader of the Catholic Church was mulling over the resignation option.

Of course, with Ash Wednesday coming up, there were the Lenten jokes.

With his last day on February 28, thoughts are now turning to what to give His Holiness as a leaving present.

And then came the atrocious puns.

Closely followed by the ironic ones:

There was also some speculation about the state of the octogenarian's health.

There were, of course, the tributes to the 88-year-old, singling out his work on advancing inter-faith dialog and links, but most world and religious leaders didn't make it to Twitter. One who did, however, was the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

But amongst this normal Twitter fodder (one part news, two parts jokes) came a great deal of admiration for the Pontiff. There were those who felt the the Pope deserved praise for a job well done:

And then there were those who applauded the Pope for having the cojones to admit that the job was too much for a man of his age.

Online betting firms are having a field day predicting who the next Bishop of Rome will be—my money's on Tony Blair.

[Image by Twitter user Sergey Gabdurakhmanov]

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