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Pope Benedict Stepping Down in Shocking Abdication

Not since the 15th century has a pope resigned his throne. Speculation abounds regarding the pope's unusual decision. Was it the sex-abuse scandal?

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The Legacy

Compared to that of his predecessor, Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), the papacy of Benedict XVI has been pale and dour by comparison. While JPII was every bit as authoritarian, misogynist, homophobic and negligent of his bishops' wrongdoing, he possessed a charm that inspired people across the globe -- a quality that bypassed Benedict.

Because of the rigging done to the College of Cardinals by Benedict's predessessor, the next pope will likely be no less authoritarian, no less women-hating, no less gay-bashing and no more reform-minded. But despite Benedict's insistance on a European-style expression of the faith, it is likely that the next pope will come from outside Europe, perhaps even from Africa.

Proof, perhaps, that there is something new under the sun, after all.

Adele M. Stan is a journalist based in Washington, D.C., who specializes in covering the intersection of religion and politics. She is RH Reality Check's senior Washington correspondent.

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