Catholics in Manila pray for smooth succession
MANILA (AP) - Filipinos in Asia's largest predominantly Roman Catholic nation attended Mass on Sunday with their church awkwardly having no pope for the first time in 600 years and prayed for the smooth rise of a successor to Benedict XVI to lead an embattled institution.
Benedict stunned the world when he announced on Feb 11 that he would resign, citing his age and frail health. His resignation, which took effect on Thursday, ushered in a period known as "sede vacante" or "vacant see" - the transition period between papacies when a few Vatican officials take charge of running the church.
All cardinals worldwide have been summoned to the Vatican for a conclave to elect Benedict's successor, who inherits a church facing a tide of secularism in Europe, as well as clergy sex abuse and corruption scandals that have underscored the need to pick a formidable successor to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Churchgoers and the clergy in the Philippines said they were not worried by the temporary absence of a pope, but nevertheless felt the vacuum.