The crowds were larger than usual at Pope Benedict’s penultimate address on Sunday, and the crowd heard him ask the faithful to pray for him and for the next pope.
The shock of his sudden departure, which is the first resignation in six centuries, has left many of the faithful at a loss.
What, they wonder, happens to papal infallibility when a pope resigns? Does it transfer to the new pope and take leave of the old? These troubling and unprecedented questions have arisen in response to the totally unexpected circumstances.
Meanwhile, according to the Irish Examiner, the crowd in Saint Peter’s Square reportedly chanted Long live the Pope and broke into sustained applause as he spoke from his window. Benedict, 85, who will officially resign on February 28, thanked the large crowd, estimated at more than 50,000 people, in several languages.
As speculation mounts about Benedict's successor, a number of cardinals have announced that they would be open to the possibility of a pope from the developing world, be it Latin America, Africa or Asia.
They will make the decision without input from Benedict himself, however. After his Sunday address the Pope retired into the Vatican for a week-long spiritual retreat and is not scheduled to make any public appearances until next Sunday.
'In decisive moments of life, or, on closer inspection, at every moment in life, we are at a crossroads: Do we want to follow the ‘I’ or God? The individual interest or the real good, that which is really good?' Benedict said on Sunday, in comments that some have said relate to his own decision to resign.
Since he made his shock decision to become the first pope in more than six centuries to resign, Benedict has continually reiterated he made the decision 'for the good of the Church.'
Since he believes his physical and spiritual forces are no longer strong enough to sustain him in the job, Benedict felt he had no choice but to step aside and let a new man shoulder the task of leading the world’s some 1.2 billion Roman Catholics at a time when the Church is facing an international abuse crisis.