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As the Vatican prepares for the opening of the conclave on Tuesday to elect a new pope, officials announced that the personal secretary of former Pope Benedict XVI will return to Rome for the first time since Benedict's resignation on Feb. 28.
Pope Benedict XVI never inspired the deep love and admiration enjoyed by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, but Americans -- and American Catholics even more so -- still look favorably upon the soon-to-be-former head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Still reeling from Monday's announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will become the first pope in 600 years to resign, the Vatican is attempting to return to normal, but many questions about the future remain unanswered.
Pope Benedict XVI will continue living inside the Vatican once his retirement becomes official at the end of the month, but observers say he will probably keep a low profile both before and after the election to choose his successor.
Pope Benedict leaves a legacy as a conservative Catholic leader. During his eight-year leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, he rejected the ordination of women and marriage for priests. He also opposed euthanasia, abortion and same-sex marriage.
With Pope Benedict XVI's shocking resignation this morning, evangelical Christians might be tempted to see this the way a college football fan might view the departure of his rival team's head coach. But the global stakes are much, much higher.