Pope Benedict XVI delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the City and to the World) speech from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI has wished Christmas peace to the world, decrying the slaughter of the "defenseless" in Syria and urging Israelis and Palestinians to find the courage to negotiate. Delivering the Vatican's traditional Christmas day message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, a weary-looking and hoarse-sounding
TAMPA, Florida -- The announcement that Pope Benedict the XVI will step down came a surprise to many Catholics, and it comes at a time when the Catholic church is struggling with declining parishonership.
So many questions have been raised about who will take Benedict's place, and how he will deal with changing social attitudes.
Father Matthew Gamber is a professor of theology at Jesuit High School and says don't expect the new pope to change church ideology.
"Whoever the pope is, he doesn't come in with a new set of his own ideas. He receives the teachings of the church and he tries to present them in a way that's understandable," said Gamber.
The new pope will have to deal with abortion, birth control, and gay marriage, and the changing attitudes toward those issues.
"We don't expect doctrinal, dogmatic changes, but perhaps a fresh way of approaching them," he says.
But that answer doesn't sit well with Catholics like Connie Wittig. She says the Vatican's attitude toward the role of women in the church offends her, and she would like to see the church bring its dogma into the new millennium.
"I would like to see someone who would open the door to women, and be more involved," says Wittig.
Wittig explains the rigid nature of the church has pushed her and others away, saying uniting, not dividing, would help the church attract more people.
"We're not talking about women, we're not talking about gay marriage, we're still talking about birth control. That's a bit archaic, " she said.