When Pope Benedict XVI announced he would resign by the end of February, much of the world -- including Chicago's sizeable Catholic community -- expressed shock.
"People are very surprised," Tribune religion reporter Manya Brachear said in a live webcast Monday morning with the Tribune's Jenniffer Weigel. And they were asking questions: "What is the hope for the future, and what does the timing indicate?"
Benedict is known as conservative and traditional, but has broken tradition in surprising ways at times. His accession to the head of the Catholic faith was announced, as a papal selection always is, with a column of white smoke from the Vatican. Eight years into his papacy, he was communicating with Catholic faithful by Twitter.
On Monday, he made an almost unheard-of break with tradition: He resigned, something that hasn't happned since the 15th century.
Brachear was in Rome in 2005 as Pope Benedict was selected by Catholic cardinals, and relates that experience in her conversation with Weigel. She also talks about Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, a Catholic intellectual and influential figure in the selection of the next pope.
Here's a replay of the 12-minute live webcast from the newsroom, which includes some of the first reaction from Catholic parishioners in Chicago:
For the Tribune and other newsrooms, next steps will include reporting on the efforts to select the next pope, explaining the complex procedure involved, and looking ahead at the immediate future of the Catholic Church and faith. Watch for more on chicagotribune.com and in the print Chicago Tribune, which will go up in pages on Tuesday.
-- James Janega, Trib Nation manager