The world’s 1.2 billion Catholics are celebrating Holy Week, and Pope Francis is preparing for his first Good Friday and Easter Mass as pontiff. It’s been exactly a month since Pope Benedict XVI stepped down from the office of the papacy, which has given observers time to reflect on the historic transfer of power.
“This will stand out as a moment that Church historians will talk about for the next 600 years,” said University of Oklahoma Italian language and literature professor Jason Houston. He says if Benedict set a precedent for resignation that future pontiffs would follow, “he has changed the papacy in a way that no one has since probably the 11th Century. [But] I don't think that's going to happen.”