Pope Benedict Has Left the Vatican For Good

Pope Benedict Has Left the Vatican For Good

Pope Benedict Has Left the Vatican For Good

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The Slatest
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Feb. 28 2013 11:19 AM

Pope Benedict Has Officially Left the Building

A helicopter lands at the Vatican on Feb. 28, 2013

Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

The Catholic Church is about three hours away from being officially pope-less. Soon-to-be pope emeritus Benedict left the Vatican for the final time this afternoon (as pope anyway, he'll be back later for the second part of his retirement). Here's CBS News with the scene on the ground in Vatican City:

Pope Benedict XVI has embarked upon his final journey as pontiff, emerging from the Apostolic Palace, walking with the help of a cane, for a short car ride to a waiting helicopter that will fly him into retirement.
CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips said the crowd outside the Palace was large, but not huge, perhaps because Benedict failed to ever garner the sort of public adoration that his predecessor Pope John Paul II did, or perhaps because those wanting to bid Benedict farewell did so the previous day at this last general audience at St. Peter's Square.

Benedict should be at Castel Gandolfo soon, if he isn't already; 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. Eastern) marks the exact moment that his resignation officially goes into effect. At that moment the Swiss Guards who are on duty will mark the occasion by going off duty, and the rest of us will return to speculating on who the next pope will be.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.