White smoke, new pope!

The Vatican has signaled that a decision has been made on a new pope, following deliberations by the Vatican conclave. The new pope will follow the now-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who announced his surprise resignation earlier this year.

Photos: Gregorio Borgia, Andrew Medichini / Associated Press, Filippo Monteforte / AFP/Getty Images

The pope has left the building

Outgoing Pope Benedict XVI has departed the Vatican and will spend the final hours of his papacy at a summer retreat, soon leaving the Catholic church without a figurehead while the church tries to sort out who his successor will be.

Pope Benedict will now be known as the “Pope Emeritus,” becoming the first living ex-post in hundreds of years.

From the scene in Italy:

The courtyard at the Vatican was lined with clapping well-wishers, church officials and the plume-hatted Swiss Guards, the pope’s protectors, as Benedict left the papal apartment for the last time. On the Vatican’s helipad, he raised his arms in farewell, still wearing his white papal vestments, and the chopper lifted off into blue skies. The bells of St. Peter’s Basilica pealed during the departure.

Read more on his departure here, via World Now.

Photos: Alberto Pizzoli / AFP/Getty Images, Guido Montani / EPA, Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press

Too many popes: Pope Benedict XVI’s sudden announcement this week that he would be stepping down from the papacy, the first pope to do so in hundreds of years, puts the Vatican in a bizarre quandary:

One day soon, perhaps on a fine morning this spring, a new pope strolling through the Vatican’s beautifully tended gardens may run into something that few, if any, of his predecessors ever encountered: another pope.

Read more on the Vatican’s awkward situation, or take a peek at some of the possible popes-to-be.

Too many popes: Pope Benedict XVI’s sudden announcement this week that he would be stepping down from the papacy, the first pope to do so in hundreds of years, puts the Vatican in a bizarre quandary:

One day soon, perhaps on a fine morning this spring, a new pope strolling through the Vatican’s beautifully tended gardens may run into something that few, if any, of his predecessors ever encountered: another pope.

Read more on the Vatican’s awkward situation, or take a peek at some of the possible popes-to-be.

A surprise from the Vatican: Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that he would step down at the end of the month, ending a papacy that has lasted less than eight years, declaring that his health is too great of a concern to continue his duties. Benedict will become the first pope since Gregory XII in 1415 to step down.

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.

For a look at the pope’s surprise Vatican radio address earlier today, click here.

A surprise from the Vatican: Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that he would step down at the end of the month, ending a papacy that has lasted less than eight years, declaring that his health is too great of a concern to continue his duties. Benedict will become the first pope since Gregory XII in 1415 to step down.

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.

For a look at the pope’s surprise Vatican radio address earlier today, click here.