Pope Benedict steps down: Who will be the next pope?

The pontiff will leave office with no successor in place. Who will step into his Prada slippers?

Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to resign in 600 years.
(Image credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

The first reaction to Pope Benedict XVI's announcement, in Latin at the end of an unrelated ceremony, that he is resigning Feb. 28 was shock. "The pope took us by surprise," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a press conference.

"We were all left...." Monsignor Oscar Sanchez of Mexico tells The Guardian's John Hooper, trailing off. "The cardinals were just looking at one another. Then the pope got to his feet, gave his benediction and left. It was so simple; the simplest thing imaginable. Extraordinary. Nobody expected it."

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