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AMERICAN CATHOLICS

Thursday - 2/28/2013, 8:58am  ET

A poster of Pope Benedict XVI with writing reading in Italian," You will stay always with us. Thank you" is seen near Rome's Capitol Hill, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Shortly before 5 p.m. on Thursday, Benedict will leave the Apostolic palace inside the Vatican for the last time as pontiff, head to the helipad at the top of the hill in the Vatican gardens and fly to the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome. There, at 8 p.m. sharp, Benedict will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

The Associated Press

Catholics in the United States are conflicted over what they want from the next pope.

In a survey days after Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication, Catholics split over whether they hope his successor will generally preserve tradition or make changes in Catholic teaching.

A majority of Catholics said the next pontiff should allow priests to marry, but people who attend Mass more frequently are less certain about the idea.

Most U.S. Catholics also said it would be good for the church if the new pope came from a developing country. Catholicism is growing dramatically in Africa, as well as in Asia and Latin America, while the faith is shrinking in the West.

The survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

-- Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer, https://twitter.com/rzollAP

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"Pope Live" follows the events of the final day of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy as seen by journalists from The Associated Press around the world. It will be updated throughout the day with breaking news and other items of interest. Follow AP reporters on Twitter where available.


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