Northeast Ohio's Catholic population is large and, with news the pope is resigning, many members of the church are interested in who will take his place.
As many churches experienced last year with the Pope reinstating dozens of local churches, the Vatican can still have an impact on the local level.
Dr. Doris Donnelly's lesson in Theology at John Carroll Monday morning tackled a topic not seen in 600 years: A pope resigns. And the question, what or who will come next?
"The next pope, who he is, will have a great bearing on Catholics," says Donnelly, who has studied the papacy for decades.
Dr. Donnelly describes Pope Benedict as modern because of his use of social media to reach the public. But she says the Pope's successor will likely be chosen to tackle the social issues distancing Catholics from the church, such as globalization, poverty and sexual morality.
"I guess I don't really care because I'm not practicing," says Natalie Sacco, from Cleveland Heights, "I think if the Catholic Church wants to continue to retain members or gain new members, that they do need to be more progressive."
Bishop Richard Lennon says he wasn't surprised by the news. He recalls comments made by the Pope about resigning when he met with the pontiff in Rome.
During a statement to the press, Lennon says Catholics must have faith in God that the right successor will be chosen.