The VICE Channels

    The Pope's Historic Early Retirement Is Clearly Twitter's Fault

    Written by

    Brian Merchant

    Senior Editor

    The papacy is apparently supposed to be treated like a life sentence with no parole, because the world is losing its shit over the fact that the pope is retiring. At 85. He's the first pope to retire instead of dying off in some 600 years, so maybe ol Benedict is trying to leave at least one semi-progressive statement in his wake, by advocating for early retirement.

    Either way, the story now is why'd he quit? Age? Health? Embarrassment? Theories and speculation abound, but they're probably all wrong, because the Pope definitely quit because of Twitter.

    Benedict XVI made history by joining the social media platform on Decemeber 12, 2012, under the handle @Pontifex. Less than two months and under 35 tweets later, he's gone. Coincidence? Think not. After all, why would the Pope join one of the world's largest and most popular social media networks if he were planning to quit just a month or so later? Seems pointless. No, the only explanation is that once on Twitter, the Pope, for the first time, was forced to see exactly what people were saying about him. As the masses' reactions to his tweets tumbled down his feed, he obviously grew so appalled that it forced him into early retirement.

    Take for example, his last tweet. 

    Seems an innocuous bit of Catholicy aphorizing, no? Well, here's the very top response that loads on the page, from the also seemingly innocuously monikered Carly Rae Jepsen Fan:

    "Lord in Heaven!" The Pope must have exclaimed, readjusting his towering hat with one hand while gripping his iPad with another. Nobody had ever talked directly to him like this, not before Twitter, and at least not since the Hitler Youth days. "Vox paradoxiticus--it must be an outlier," the Pope then probably thought to himself in Latin. "An ungodly heathen looking to do me ill. Surely there must be no other such wanton displays of vulgarity from the world's--"



    "Well, yes, perhaps that last one bears a glimmer of truth."

    And so it was. We can only assume that this was the last straw, that the mountain of ugly, profanity-laden twitterspheric criticism piled at his feet became too much to bear yesterday, and he came to agree with @OmegaMusic44 and all the rest. The hate had spilled forth from day one, after all, since his inaugural tweet:

    And what was he even doing this for if the people were going to treat him like this? The world is clearly beyond saving, and ...

    While Catholics probably have complicated feelings about the Pope's early departure, Twitter users should be less conflicted--whatever his other achievements and shortcomings, the man sucked at Twitter. After an encouraging start--seven tweets on his first day, he tweeted only irregularly. Many were poorly punctuated and contained spelling errors, and some were tweeted out twice. The following is an example of both:

    Some are just puzzling.

    And he's only got like 33 tweets, so we're working with a limited body of work here. Alas, it's likely to remain that way; unless the Pope is actually stepping down to devote more time to improving his social media skillset. There's no word yet on whether Benedict will continue to tweet once he reverts back to being plain old Joseph Ratzinger, or whether the next pope will take to Twitter as well, or whether he'll call on God to smite the nonbelievers who demeaned the papacy with their 140-charactered blasphemy.


    The Awkwardness of Calling Space

    The Pope Video Chatted the Space Station