By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, CNN
(CNN) – Andreas Widmer knew two men - one who was pope and one who would succeed him - who despite their immense responsibilities were keen to the spiritual needs of the people around them. The sort of people others might hardly notice.
Widmer was one of those the clerics noticed.
He saw the inner workings of the Vatican as a member of the Swiss Guard when John Paul II was head of the Roman Catholic Church. The experience left him with an appreciation for what a pope sacrifices.
"Nobody wants to be pope," he said. To become pope is "to give up all privacy," Widmer said. "You're basically locked in; you have to go where you have to go. You lose your friends, you lose your family - you're a prisoner.
"Not one cardinal wants to be pope."
(CNN) - Technically, any adult Catholic male can be elected to the papacy, but the last pope not chosen from the College of Cardinals was Urban VI in 1379. The cardinals who seem to be front-runners to replace the current pope are referred to as "papabile," or translated from the Italian, "pope-able."
Our interactive offers a list of some cardinals considered "papabile," according to John Allen, CNN analyst and correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.
By Laura Smith-Spark and Richard Allen Greene, CNN
Rome (CNN) - Benedict XVI's time as pope came to a historic end Thursday, as he became the first pontiff in six centuries to resign as leader of the world's Roman Catholics, who now number 1.2 billion.
Torchlit crowds stood before the gates of the Castel Gandolfo residence, waiting to see the Swiss Guards, the soldiers who traditionally protect the pope, salute and close the doors on the stroke of 8 p.m.
The guards' departure from the papal summer home brings Benedict's papacy to a formal end. The protection of Benedict there falls now to Vatican police.
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
Rome (CNN) – Thirty-five years before a German intellectual named Joseph Ratzinger ascended the throne of St. Peter and took the name Benedict XVI, a very different intellectual named Laurence Peter coined a rule which he named after himself: the Peter Principle.
Put simply, the Peter Principle says that people who are good at their jobs get promoted, and if they're good at their new jobs, they keep getting promoted - until they get to a job they're not good at, where they stay.
As the troubled papacy of Benedict XVI limps to a close, it appears very possible that the rule describes Ratzinger's eight years at the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Call it the Throne of Peter Principle.
(CNN)–Starting Point panel discusses a NY Times editorial suggesting the celibacy vow for Catholic priests is a bad idea.
(CNN)– Justin Bieber's pastor, Judah Smith, says his book 'Jesus Is" challenges people to have a discussion about who Jesus was.
By Ben Brumfield, CNN
(CNN) – With Pope Benedict XVI leaving the papal office after resigning two weeks ago, the Catholic Church will have to rush to pick his replacement before Easter.
Normally, the College of Cardinals is not allowed to select a new pontiff until 15 to 20 days after the office becomes vacant - usually when the previous pope has died.
Benedict's resignation is a rare exception. The last man to quit the head of the Catholic Church did so 600 years ago.
The situation calls for some rule bending, and having the current pope involved is proving advantageous.
He has slightly amended the 500-year-old policy on pope selection to get a successor into place more rapidly.
The cardinals may to be able to pull it off before March 15, according to Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi.
By Laura Smith-Spark and Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN
Rome (CNN) - In front of rapt crowds, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of moments of joy and struggle Wednesday during his final public address from a stage set up in St. Peter's Square.
Dressed all in white and looking serene, the pope used his last general audience to call for a renewal of faith and speak of his own spiritual journey through eight years as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
As he finished, cheers erupted from the tens of thousands gathered in the square - acknowledged by Benedict with an open-armed embrace.
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN) - Don't expect a lot of shuffleboard games for the soon-to-be former Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter, Head of the College of Bishops, Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the Universal Church: Pope Benedict XVI.
On Thursday, at 8 p.m. in Rome, Benedict will become the first retired pontiff in 600 years. And with no modern guides, everything he does will be pioneering for a 21st century papal retiree.
The leader of 1.2 billion Catholics around the globe will leave his seat at the ornate Apostolic Palace and retire to a former gardener's house at the Vatican to lead a life of prayer, likely removed entirely from public life.
Editor's note: Sister Mary Ann Walsh is director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Northeast Regional Community. She is a former foreign correspondent at Catholic News Service (CNS) in Rome and the editor of "John Paul II: A Light for the World," "Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on his Papacy," and "From Pope John Paul II to Benedict XVI."
By Mary Ann Walsh, Special to CNN
(CNN) – One of the Bible's paradoxical statements comes from St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians: "Power is made perfect in infirmity."
The poetic statement proclaims that when we are weak, we are strong. Pope Benedict XVI's stepping down from what many consider one of the most powerful positions in the world proves it. In a position associated with infallibility - though that refers to formal proclamations on faith and morals - the pope declares his weakness.
His acceptance of frailty speaks realistically about humanity: We grow old, weaken, and eventually die. A job, even one guided by the Holy Spirit, as we Roman Catholics believe, can become too much for us.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.