Pope Benedict XVI Resigns: Who Will Be the Next Pope?

Pope Benedict becomes the first pope to leave his post in 600 years.
3:00 | 02/11/13

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Transcript for Pope Benedict XVI Resigns: Who Will Be the Next Pope?
-- last 600 years have taught us anything it is that popes don't quit. There is no league of retired pontiff's no holy father rest home it is a job for life or at least it was. Until this morning -- over a billion Catholics -- they collected double take at the news that Benedict the sixteenth. Had just given his two weeks' notice in Latin. So why now what does it mean for the church and who could possibly replace and here's my co anchor Terry Moran. It seemed an ordinary rainy Monday in the Vatican except maybe for that lightning -- striking saint Peter's -- in those movies boom. Pope Benedict the sixteenth gathered a group of cardinals -- small ceremony the canonization of three sinks his new bombshell panacea its. Income wishing to attend -- He spoke in Latin said -- ancient language of the church I have column to the certainty he said. That my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise. Of the pay to see. -- -- -- Around the world from ordinary parishioners to Vatican insiders the reaction was the same. Today is -- the decision by a Benedict the sixteenth. To resign for the -- Passaic came as a huge surprise to me and I think to everyone in -- and also to everyone in the Vatican. For almost 600 years it hadn't happened for almost 600 years. Hopes died in office. So with this one stroke Benedict the sixteenth changed history no one alive as ever seen anything like that happen. And the dynamics of that I think -- Completely unknown. And just under eight years ago to step down on the balcony of saint Peter's basilica Joseph Ratzinger becoming Benedict the sixteenth. Chosen to succeed at titan John Paul the second who -- -- hoped for 25 years -- -- a hard act to follow. -- -- very typical act to follow but he followed it in his own way father James Marten is -- jesuit priest and editor at large of that orders magazine America if John Paul was the rock star he's the beloved professor. Benedict was a shy man with a great reputation inside the church to theologian. A strong advocate for return to tradition in the face of -- -- -- more. But these were hard years -- the Catholic church and for Benedict. There was the continuing agony -- church of the sex abuse scandals in several countries. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York spoke with Diane Sawyer earlier and reflect. Did on this whole of it all when he speaks about the church. When he speaks about Christian life they're the most noble loving. Them the most elevated sentiments you can have -- for him to see. The troubles. The that corruption scandals that have always afflicted members of the church that's kind of -- on him. Another scandal hit close to home his own personal Butler stole a trove of his private correspondence. And leaked it to the Italian media. But over the years many of the faithful warmed to this -- prayerful man. He was incredible shepherd and he would that someone I would look to. One of the great leaders and -- church. And now he is leaving to lead a quiet life in the Vatican so what next is this a moment when the church is on the verge of profound change. Lot of people in the secular world look at the -- -- -- what are they going to ordain women when are they going to have. The priest who don't have to be -- of it. -- -- -- -- going to change on the issue of homosexuality. I think for the next -- those questions all have the same answer which is. No no and now so I don't think you're gonna see much change. Catholic scholar -- out there who comprise the Pope on women's issues -- the challenges ahead in stark -- I think some of the challenges in the future or similar to what they where in 2005. Which it is. Making catholicism. Relevance and comprehend. Simple as against modern notions. The nature of of love the nature of region. The nature of progress. The big question in the immediate future. Who's next. In a few short weeks now as they did nearly eight years ago the cardinals of the Catholic Church will gather in room. Enter the Sistine Chapel in formal procession with its magnificent Michelangelo's frescoes soaring above them. And take their places lock the door behind them and pick the next Pope. It is an ancient highly secret carefully structured homes part politics part prayer. And always the potential for stunning surprise. So among the front runners cardinal Angelo Scola archbishop of Malone a gentle scholar well liked close to Pope Benedict. He -- return at the Italians to the -- of saint Peter. Cardinal Peter Turks and born in Ghana would be the first black Pope. Think of the interest in picture. That an African bishop equally devoted to the church is on sex and marriage it's teaching there. And its teaching on poverty and the dignity of every human being think of what a picture that -- present. There's also cardinal a little Pedro -- archbishop of Sao Paulo Brazil the largest diocese in the largest Catholic country he may be the strongest candidate from Black America and even New -- -- -- -- cardinal Dolan mentioned. And many believe that superpower -- from the US is unlikely. And he dismissed the idea with Diane Sawyer what are the odds of an American and north American. And you ask what what you. Is this ABC evening news or Comedy Central what is usually. It will be a momentous and mysterious process as police and Chad -- setting in motion today. The -- historic words of the servant of the servant of god. -- -- A man who simply decide. It was time.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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