At 85 years old, Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope to resign since 1415 when he stepped down as leader of the Catholic church on Feb. 28.
He made the announcement on Feb. 11, citing his failing health as his reason for resigning. Since then, he has given his final addresses and his ring has been scratched, signifying the end of his reign.
So what happens next?
The College of Cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope.
This process began on March 4 and, despite the advanced notice that a new Pope would be needed, the Cardinals seem to be taking their time with their decision.
While members of the Catholic Church do not get to vote on the new Pope, the New York Times conducted a survey asking Catholics questions about Pope Benedict XVI and their hopes and expectations for their new Pope. According to the article, Catholics felt that:
The next pope should lead the church in a new direction and make its teachings more liberal, those polled said. Most Catholics said they wanted the next pope to be “someone younger, with new ideas.”
Among the candidates for Pope is Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson who, if elected, could be the first black Pope. However, according to the New York Times survey, the nationality of the Pope is not expected to matter much.
The world is waiting to see white smoke come from the Sistine Chapel. Until then, everything is speculation.