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Pope Benedict XVI resigns; Argentine Jesuit named new pope

Pope Benedict XVI announced his decision to resign on Feb. 11. He is the first pope in nearly six centuries to resign his post. On March 13, the Vatican named Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Benedict’s replacement A Jesuit priest, and the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years, he took the name Francis.

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popeROME — Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign has rekindled debate within the Catholic Church and worldwide speculation about the possibility that the church will reach beyond the European clergy who have long held power in the Vatican to choose the next pope.

With an eye to vibrant Catholic communities in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, the Sacred College of Cardinals may weigh the pros and cons of selecting the next pope from another continent.

Here are cardinals believed to be possible choices:

Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana is an African prelate seen as a top contender, and at 64 would be better positioned than older candidates to carry on the doctrine of John Paul II and Benedict XVI through what could be a time of growing Catholic influence in the developing world. Currently president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Turkson has spent much of his career in religious academia. He has a doctorate in sacred scripture and has been a professor at St. Teresa’s Seminary in his home country as well as vice rector at St. Peter’s Seminary. His negative views on the merits of using condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, though, have alienated reformists within the church. In 2009, he reaffirmed the church’s position against contraception, urging abstinence and fidelity instead.

For more on this LA Times story, click here.

photo 1SEATTLE — The leader of the Archdiocese of Seattle said he received the news of Pope Benedict’s decision to resign “with strongly mixed feelings” Monday.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain called the Pope’s decision a “very personal, spiritual one,” that expressed his commitment to the church.

“With his resignation, we are losing a pastor whose papacy has been marked not only by his profound fidelity to the Lord Jesus and our Catholic faith but also his gentle and humble nature,” Sartain said. “He will be missed, but we may be assured that, as with all his decisions  his announcement today was made prayerfully and for the benefit of the Church and all people of faith.”

The spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI, surprised the world Monday by saying he will resign at the end of the month “because of advanced age.”

It’s the first time a pope has stepped down in nearly 600 years. A Vatican newspaper said Benedict made his decision to resign “many months ago” after his trip to Mexico & Cuba March 2012, the New York Times reported.

Sartain said he was always struck by the Pope’s humility and kindness.

“A brilliant theologian, he is also a caring pastor who looks one straight in the eye and listens carefully,” Sartain said.

A successor to Benedict will be chosen in the day’s following the Pope’s resignation. According to the BBC, during this period all the cardinals – retirees included – will begin to discuss in strict secrecy the merits of likely candidates.

pope bendykt – The spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI, surprised the world Monday by saying he will resign at the end of the month “because of advanced age.”

It’s the first time a pope has stepped down in nearly 600 years.

“Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” said Benedict, 85, according to the Vatican.

Read more: Who is Pope Benedict XVI?

The news startled and shocked the Catholic world and led to frenzied speculation about who would replace him.

To read the complete CNN story, go here.

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