Pope Benedict XVI has officially resigned, saying that he now “will simply be a pilgrim” starting his last journey on earth.

Over the past eight years, he has pursued a staunchly anti-gay doctrine, opposing everything from condom use to equal marriage.

PinkNews.co.uk published some of his biggest anti-gay moments in a feature this month.

On Thursday evening, the 86-year-old pontiff was flown by helicopter from the Vatican to his retreat at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.

His deputy, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is now in charge of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics until a new Pope is elected next month.

US LGBT Catholic group Rainbow Sash Movement said in a statement:

LGBT Catholics today will be celebrating a major battle lost by forces of homophobia in [the] church headed by Benedict XVI. It would be insincere of us to have any other response in light of the bigotry he has directed at the world wide LGBT community.

The Roman Catholic Church is entering a dangerous period in its history not because of its frailties, rather because of the modernising forces of the Internet age. These forces are removing from the Pope and his bishop’s the ability to control the conversation about those frailties in the public square.

It is now time for the Vatican to sincerely begin dealing with the present realities that face the world wide church. The time of hiding behind the theater of liturgy, incense, bells and music rather than the justice that should flow from that Liturgy needs to come to an end.

Accommodating rather than challenging the various scandals that face the church today has put the very purpose of the church in question.

Under Pope Benedict XVI the cancer of scandal has been allowed to remove its focus from helping the poor in the name of greed, and power.

The next pope must be creative, communicative, collaborative, creation-centered, and a change agent. Community, collegiality, and compassion must be the guiding principles of his papacy.