Now that Pope Benedict has granted his own wish to step down, the debate over his legacy is officially open.
Pope Benedict XVI will live "hidden from the world" in "a life dedicated to prayer" after he officially retires. Here's more about what comes next for him.
We say: This is a critical time for the church. Can the global church, mired in an outdated governing system, be effectively managed?
Pope Benedict this morning met for last time with the College of Cardinals, promising "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor, who was likely in the room.
Rome analysis: The way in which Benedict is stepping off the stage may be reframing his legacy, perhaps providing a more generous optic for assessing the pope.
"Pope Benedict leaves behind an important but frequently overlooked legacy on social justice issues. A pope largely viewed in the media as a staunch conservative for his opposition to gay marriage and abortion also trumpeted views to the left of most Democrats in Congress when it came to economic justice and the environment." - John Gehring, senior writer and Catholic outreach coordinator at Faith in Public Life.
Rome dispatch: The last public day on the job for Pope Benedict was surprisingly intimate for a man known for his formal demeanor.
Pope Benedict XVI might want to fade into a quiet retirement of books and music, but Catholics with long memories remember when Joseph Ratzinger was in charge of upholding orthodoxy.
Analysis: The Vatican is stuck in a time period full of court behavior and palace intrigue, trying desperately to stave off 21st-century reality.
The square outside St. Peter’s Basilica was busy the night of Feb. 26. Crews were setting up chairs, barricades, cameras and lights in anticipation of the final general audience of Pope Benedict XVI. Amid the hubbub, pilgrims and visitors milled quietly on the square, giving the scene a somber dignity. Standing in the square in the early evening, one could see lights burning brightly in the papal apartment, leading to the question: want occupies Benedict’s minds on his nights.