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The Guardian view on Catholicism after Benedict: winds of change blow from below | Editorial

The world’s biggest Christian church needs to revive the open, progressive spirit of Vatican II

The funeral of Benedict XVI, which takes place on Thursday in St Peter’s Square, will not, of course, be followed by the drama and intrigue of a papal conclave to elect a new pontiff. Having become the first pope to resign his office for 600 years, taking on the new title of pope emeritus, Benedict moved to the sidelines of the Roman Catholic church’s public life. For the most part, he spent the last decade in private prayer and reflection.

But as the Catholic church contemplates its future direction, it would be a mistake to view Benedict’s death at the age of 95 as anything other than a significant moment. Though the notion of “two popes” worked better as the title of a film than as a true description of Vatican reality, the politics of Benedict’s retirement have undoubtedly been fraught.

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