pope is by far the world's most visible religious figure. His office
can be a bully pulpit on everything from salvation to the economy. In
his overseas travels, he's greeted with the kind of pomp and reverence
accorded major world leaders.
But as Pope Benedict XVI
prepares to step down, questions are being raised about just how
influential his successor can be. He will be taking command of a church
that has been weakened in recent decades — by rising secularism in the
West, fallout from clergy sex abuse, competition from Pentecostal groups
in the developing world and crises within the Vatican itself.
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