World leaders and Catholics hailed the election of Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina as the first Latin American pope on Wednesday, urging him to work for religious reconciliation and peace.
Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis on Wednesday, becoming the first Latin American pontiff in an astonishing decision that raises hopes of greater openness for the troubled Catholic Church.
Cardinals prepared for a second day of conclave behind the Vatican's walls to elect a pope on Wednesday, with all eyes on a chimney that will signal when there is a new leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Catholics in Asia and other parts of the world where the Roman Catholic Church is growing fast would dearly like to see the cardinals choose an Asian pope for the first time in history.
The conclaves of cardinals which elect a new pope are laden with rituals and shrouded in secrecy, but tantalising details have emerged from previous votes of what really happens behind the sealed doors of the Sistine Chapel.
Vatican workers made final preparations in the Sistine Chapel on Saturday after Roman Catholic cardinals voted to begin their conclave to elect a new pope under Michelangelo's famous frescoes next week.
The Vatican, Iran and other religious states are resisting efforts by a UN conference, which started Monday, to demand tougher global standards to prevent violence against women and children.
Catholic cardinals begin talks on Monday ahead of a conclave to elect the next pope, following Benedict XVI's historic resignation, as a British cardinal not in attendance admitted to sexual misconduct with priests.
Cardinals from around the world were summoned Friday to meetings that will set a date for a conclave to elect a new pope, as Benedict XVI settled into a pensioner's life after becoming the first pontiff to resign in more than 700 years.
Pope Benedict XVI will hold the last audience of his pontificate in St Peter's Square on Wednesday on the eve of his historic resignation as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Benedict XVI's legacy in Latin America, the world's most Catholic region, is marked by a victory of conservative theology and the demise of home-grown leftist religious thought.
After a Pole and a German, will the Roman Catholic Church revert to an Italian leader once again?
Pope Benedict XVI's final Sunday prayers in St Peter's Square will signal the start of a week in the Vatican that will make history with the first voluntary papal resignation in more than 700 years.
After the pope's resignation on Thursday the Catholic Church will enter a period known as "Sede Vacante" ("Vacant Seat") in which a cardinal takes over interim powers before a new pope is elected.
Activists fighting for truth and justice for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests hold out little hope for progress under the next pope as controversy brews over a US cardinal who covered up for predator clerics.
Pope Benedict XVI will address a group of parish priests from Rome, a day after emotional scenes at his final papal mass in public in St Peter's Basilica.
Pope Benedict XVI, who has announced he will resign on February 28, will retire to a monastery tucked away inside the historic walls of the Holy See: so once the new pope is elected.
The world's media Tuesday speculated on whether the next pontiff may come from the developing world, while paying mixed tributes to Pope Benedict XVI following his shock resignation announcement.
Pope Benedict XVI announced he will resign as leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics on February 28 because his age prevented him from carrying out his duties -- an unprecedented move in the modern history of the Catholic Church.
The Vatican has thrown its weight behind outgoing prime minister Mario Monti, ditching the scandal-hit Silvio Berlusconi in favour of a practising Catholic they hope may lead Italy after February's general election.