4 March 2013 5:24 AM, PST | blogs.suntimes.com/ebert | See recent Roger Ebert's Blog news »

On Thursday morning, February 28, I found CNN featuring a continuous shot of a helicopter. The network cut between a close-up and a distant dot. It was Benedict, flying from the Vatican City. This was extraordinary attention for an ordinary cardinal, because as Benedict told the throng awaiting him, "I am no longer Pope." I am not a scholar of Catholic history, but I believe we were witnessing the first time the Papal throne was vacant while an elected Pope was alive.

"This no one can deny," wise Sister Rosanne told us during the 8 am theology class that began every day at St. Mary's Grade School. "The Church is the oldest continuously functioning institution in human history, and the Popes go back in an unbroken chain to St. Peter's blessing at the hand of Jesus." That was one reason people of all faiths or none desired an audience with the Pope. »

- Roger Ebert

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