View Photo Gallery: The pontiff, who will retire at 2 p.m. Eastern time, promises ‘unconditional obedience’ to his successor.

There is, as Post colleague Elizabeth Tenety notes, no pope.

His Holiness Benedict XVI, now pope emeritus, officially retired at 2 p.m. ET. And, while he’s away there is to be no innovation — none whatsoever.

Tenety writes:

So what do cardinals do when their leader has left the building? As a matter of policy, very little: Don’t expect pronouncements on female priests or a changed teaching on contraception—even without a pope, it won’t be cardinals gone wild. [The church’s spokesman Fr. Federico Lomabrdi] explained “there is an important canonical principle with regard to any sede vacante, [which is]: sede vacante nihil innovetur – ‘There is to be no innovation during a vacancy.’”

So, in case you were wondering, the Catholic Church is officially an innovation-free zone.

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