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Beacon Hill Priest Wonders Which Direction Church Will Go After Benedict

Catholics in Boston – and around the world – consider what may be next for the Vatican after Pope Benedict XVI's resignation.

Like much of the world, many in Boston were not only surprised to see Pope Benedict XVI announce Monday morning that he would resign at the end of the month, they were thinking about what comes next.

"I think everybody is wondering if there will be a continuity or if there will be change," Father Frank Desiderio of The Paulist Center, at 5 Park St., said. "Whatever he does at this point will set a precedent."

Benedict's move is unprecendented in the modern world. The last pope to resign was  Pope Gregory XII in 1415, but that was to end a rift in the Catholic world. Benedict, 85, made his decision based on his belief that he could not perform his duties sufficiently because of his age.  

Desiderio said that his best guess is that the cardinals who select the next pope will choose continuity, considering the fact that most of them were picked by Benedict or his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005.

“But we don’t know that. God may have different plans," Desiderio added.

Desiderio said he thinks of Benedict as "a teacher, an academic pope. He wasn’t the world traveler and the innovator the way John Paul II was but he was true to his past, which was as a theologian."

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