The new pope says Benedict's prayers fuel the church and calls on the prelates to find new ways to evangelize "to the ends of the Earth."
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The Jesuits are the single-largest Catholic order, known for their dedication to education and devotion to the poor. But in the past, they have also proved controversial.
The first pope from the New World must now confront some old problems. He's begun his first full day as head of the church by slipping out of the Vatican to visit an ancient basilica. There, he quietly prayed with priests.
After his election as pope Wednesday, Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose a name that, for many Catholics, sent an immediate signal of his goal to unite the Roman Catholic Church: Pope Francis. The name also prompted some confusion — over whether it should include "I."
As news spread that the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel was billowing white smoke to signal the election of a new pope, anticipation began to build for the new pontiff's first appearance on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. Here's a quick rundown of what happens after cardinal electors choose a pope.
The new pope is known for his appeal to the common man, but appears to hold many of the same conservative views as his predecessor.
On the second day of their conclave, 115 Roman Catholic cardinals settled on their selection. Now, the new pontiff faces the challenge of leading a church that is confronting many challenges. His chosen name honors a saint known for works of mercy and a simple lifestyle.
Catholics around the world are watching the roof of the Vatican again to learn if their church has a new pope. If they see black smoke, that means the church's cardinals still haven't decided. White smoke and bells signal that a pope has been chosen.
In the Sistine Chapel, cardinals have begun voting. It takes the votes of two-thirds (77 cardinals) to become pope. In between the votes, the cardinals will be "busy murmuring in each others' ears over coffee and pasta" as they form alliances, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli says.
"March madness" is around the corner. So is the selection of a new pope. Religion News Service is bringing the two together.
A huge crowd gathered Wednesday for Pope Benedict XVI's final general audience before his resignation takes effect on Thursday. In his remarks, the pope indirectly acknowledged that his nearly 8 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church have not always been easy.
Outgoing Benedict XVI will be referred to as "His Holiness" and carry the title of "pope emeritus," the Vatican says.
The church's cardinals can start the process of choosing a new pope right after Benedict's resignation takes effect later this week — rather than wait the 15 days that rules had required. One cardinal, Keith O'Brien of Britain, has stepped down after being accused of inappropriate behavior.
Some 100,000 people packed St. Peter's Square to hear the pope's last blessing. They interrupted him several times with applause and cheers. Benedict has one more scheduled public event: a general audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday.
The Jets quarterback reversed a decision to attend the opening of a new facility for the First Baptist Church in Dallas, whose pastor has disparaged other religions and homosexuals.
Pope Benedict XVI asked those gathered in St. Peter's Square to continue praying for him and the next pope. He steps down as pope Feb. 28.
A Vatican spokesman denied that had anything to do with Benedict XVI's decision to step down. But the revelation came just two days after the spokesman said the pope underwent a secret operation late last year to replace the battery for a pacemaker.
The Pope gets credit for strengthening the core values of the Catholic Church but also for some prominent gaffes and his poor handling of the sexual abuse scandal.
Pilgrims and tourists who visit the Vatican Saturday will have a special treat, as the Knights of Malta march in procession to the tomb of St. Peter. The last of the great chivalrous orders is celebrating the 900th anniversary of its official recognition by Pope Paschal II.
Archbishop Jose Gomez said Mahony will no longer have any administrative or public duties, and that Thomas Curry, a former aide to Mahony, had stepped down from his post as regional bishop of Santa Barbara. The files amount to thousands of pages related to the abuse of children by priests.