It is widely assumed that the next pope, whoever it is, will be of a highly conservative disposition, because both Benedict XVI and John Paul II ensured that the College of Cardinals that now exists was shaped firmly in that direction.
Robert Pigott, Religious Affairs correspondent for BBC News, is an affable man who does a good job of compressing, translating and commenting on often complex religion stories to a general audience that increasingly lacks background knowledge and understanding on these issues.
In a move which is likely to puzzle many both inside and outside the Vatican, conservative Catholic groups have launched a petition to express support for Pope Benedict XVI, after recent worldwide criticism.
Tony Blair announced today that he will stand down as British prime minister on 27 June 2007. He is setting up a foundation whose work will include reconciliation between Christians, Jews and Muslims. The idea is meeting a mixed response.