The Vatican announced today that because of continuing bad health John Paul II would resign 1 June 2004 as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
Vatican spokesman Cardinal Duella Rangonni said Pope John Paul II "found the everyday duties of Pontiff too difficult to maintain and was looking forward to a peaceful retirement before being called to heaven."
The move is considered a radical departure from standard Holiness practice. However, while acknowledging the retirement sets a precedent Cardinal Rangonni went on to state that the decision was not taken quickly or lightly. "This Pope sought guidance from earthly advisors and of course, prayed over it constantly for months. His Eminence feels that given the turmoil throughout the world - both the Roman Catholic and pagan worlds -- the Pontiffship is far too important a spiritual responsibility to allow it to be filled by someone not fully healthy."
Asked about John Paul II's future plans Cardinal Rangonni surprised the assembled media stating that the Pope hoped to spend a few nights a month working as a fill-in bartender at the Vatican Lounge, a restaurant and bar located near St. Peter's. "If someone is sick, or just needs a night off the Pope, the former Pope that is, could take his place. He will, of course, have a full pension but the tips will provide him with extra spending money. His Holiness makes an excellent martini, you know. Shaken, never stirred."