Pope Benedict XVI

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot discuss the conflict in Ukraine that likely led to the surface-to-air missile attack on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and the increased flow of unaccompanied minors over the U.S.-Mexico border.

Later, a conversation with Francis Rooney, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. President Bush appointed him to the post in 2005 shortly after the death of Pope John Paul II, and he's just written a book about his three-year tenure called The Global Vatican: An Inside Look at the Catholic Church, World Politics, and the Extraordinary Relationship between the United States and the Holy See.

Shealah Craighead / The White House

The United States has had a long-but-rocky relationship with the Vatican and didn’t formally establish diplomatic relations and appoint an ambassador until 1984. That 21-year stretch of U.S. representatives serving with a single pope ended when John Paul II died in 2005.

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot discuss the banking crisis in the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, and the decision to re-try American student Amanda Knox in Italy.

University of Oklahoma Italian language and literature professor Jason Houston joins Grillot from Arezzo, Italy. He's been following the Catholic Church's transition of power in the Vatican, and speculates what the last voluntary papal resignation in 1294 could teach us about 2013.

vatican / YouTube

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.”