The announcement took the Vatican — and the rest of the world — by surprise.
Several cardinals on Monday didn’t even understand what Benedict had said during the consistory, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman said. Others who did were stunned.
"All the cardinals remained shocked and were looking at each other," said Monsignor Oscar Sanchez of Mexico who was in the room when Benedict made his announcement.
As he has done a dozen times a day for the past twenty years, a cleric pulls another dusty box of Church documents from storage and brings it to a large work table. A crackling paper label indicates that it had been moved here from the library of a shuttered monastery in 1891 and forgotten. He starts cataloguing its contents and prioritizing them for conservation and archiving.
He’s handled thousands of documents spanning every age and form of written communication. So when he spots a set of papers with a seal and device he’s never seen before, it grabs his immediate attention. He starts reading. Ten minutes later, he bursts into an office located a twenty minute walk away. He throws the document onto the desk of a colleague and insists that he immediately begin verifing his own loose translation of its contents.
It takes a year for the document to be validated but by early February of 2013, skepticism has turned to shock and chills. The Pope is briefed in secrecy.
The document definitely dates back to the fifth century and it was definitely signed by Julius II, aka “The Warrior Pope,” who was known to be ruthless and relentless in securing the glory and independence of the Church against all enemies, real and imagined. It’s a contract that promises the security and supremacy of the Church. In exchange, Satan will return and claim the soul of the sitting Pope exactly 1500 years to the day after Julius’ death. If payment is not made, he will destroy the entirety of the Church in hellfire.
It was written with a kind of pigment unknown by Man.
Julius II died on February 21, 513 AD. Witnesses to his death attributed his deathbed babblings of dark covenants to the fever that claimed his life.
The College of Cardinals only learns of these facts on February 12, the day after the Pope’s briefing, sudden abdication, and immediate disappearance. The last person to see him inside the Vatican was a telephone repairman working in the residential wing. The Pope traded him the jawbone of the apostle Bartholomew for 100 Euro and the man’s street clothes.
The unusual circumstances greatly complicates the process of choosing one among themselves to become the next Pope. A fistfight almost breaks out before someone points out the lone empty seat in the papal conclave: it’s the one assigned to Cardinal Herbert Blebbenfelder, Archbishop of Scottsdale, Arizona. He cancelled his trip to Rome because he’s scared to fly, his asthma was acting up, and he didn’t trust his bishops to take proper care of his pet birds while he was gone.
A plume of white smoke wafts from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. A new Pope has been named!
Don Knotts IS: “The Shakiest Pope In The West”!