Now that Pope Benedict has granted his own wish to step down, the debate over his legacy is officially open.
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.
Rome dispatch: The last public day on the job for Pope Benedict was surprisingly intimate for a man known for his formal demeanor.
John Allen in Rome: If Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco gets elected, there's a sense that the title "The Accidental Pope" would fit him.
John Allen is offering a profile each day of one of the most frequently touted papabili, or men who could be pope. The old saying in Rome is that he who enters a conclave as pope exits as a cardinal, meaning there's no guarantee one of these men actually will be chosen. They are, however, the leading names drawing buzz in Rome these days, ensuring they will be in the spotlight as the conclave draws near. The profiles of these men also suggest the issues and the qualities other cardinals see as desirable heading into the election.
Q-and-A: Cardinal Donald Wuerl may not have rock star charisma or the reputation for simplicity, but he’s arguably the most pivotal senior prelate in the United States.
Rome dispatch: With just a few days before he resigns, Pope Benedict XVI has given his official title for when he no longer leads the Catholic church.
John Allen in Rome: The Italian election didn't go well for the incumbent. This election and the papal election intersect in two ways.
John Allen in Rome: Why is it taking so long to choose a start date for the conclave? Why not just pick a date and get on with it?