Rules for retiring Pope: what does he keep?

Pop's final audience

This is the first Pope to have retired since Medieval times, so unsurprisingly the rules about what happens to a former pope have been somewhat lost in the mists of time.

The Vatican, however, has revealed all. So what happens on a Pope's retirement? And how does it compare to what lies in store for you?

Costume change

The name change will come immediately. He can't go around calling himself the Pope, and will have to settle for Pope emeritus or Pontiff emeritus. He will, however, still get to be called His Holiness. This, a Vatican spokesman revealed, was decided in consultation with Pope Benedict and his advisers.

The Pope currently cuts a dash in his white robe, red shoes and red cape. He will continue to wear the white robe, but sadly he loses the right to wear a cape - unless of course he takes up a retirement hobby involving crime fighting in which case a cape may be suitable attire once more. He will also be denied the right to continue wearing the papal red shoes, and is expected to favour brown instead.

He'll lose his Fisherman's Ring, which will be destroyed along with the lead seal of the pontificate.

New life

Aside from that, he'll lose the right to the Swiss Guard. He'll still keep a security detail, but that will fall to the far-less-flamboyantly-dressed Vatican Gendamerie.

He does, however, get to stay in a monastery in Vatican City - which may lead to some awkward moments in future if he bumps into his near neighbour, the new Pope.

Sadly he has also taken his final ride in the Pope-mobile before he retires to a life of contemplation and prayer.


It makes the average retirement seem remarkably straightforward. You get to walk out of the gates for the final time without a backwards glance. You can wear what you like, be called what you like, and indulge a fondness for capes to your heart's content.

You can live wherever you want, and however you wish, and nobody is going to notice - let alone pass judgment.

Of course, there's a chance you may not be looked after so well, and your living quarters may not be so handily placed. There's also the probability that you will get a bit less attention and adoration in your golden years.

But on the plus side, at least your decision to down tools at the age of 85 isn't going to lead to global speculation that you're a bit of a slacker.

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