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As Pope Benedict XVI Resigns, Professor Says Church Faces Challenges

Pope Benedict XVI announced this morning that he would resign February 28. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March. The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, citing his failing health.

As to whether the announcement really did come as a surprise...

That is Thomas Groome, Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College.

Dennis Poust agrees.

Poust is spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference.  He says other precedents include embracing interfaith dialogue, and social media.

Boston College’s Professor Groome, says apart from the surprise of the announcement, there is another noteworthy aspect.

And here are some of the controversial issues.

As for potential successors, Professor Groome has some thoughts.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s name had been bandied about as a long shot. At a news conference this morning, Cardinal Dolan, who says he was as startled as the rest of the world about Pope Benedict’s announcement, said it would be "highly improbable" for him to be considered for the papacy. As cardinal, Dolan would be part of the College of Cardinals electing a new pope next month.

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