Beginning just four days after the start date of this issue, we will enter into the period known as interregnum, the period of time between papacies.

With the astonishing, but not totally unforeseen, news of Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that he would resign the papacy at the end of the month, there are many things for us to keep in mind as we go forward.

First and foremost, I ask you to please pray for our Holy Father and for the Church at this vital moment in history.

Try not to get caught up in the posturing and speculation over who will be the next pope. Instead, let the Holy Spirit lead Christ’s Church, as he always has done since the time of Peter, the very first pope.

Pray for the Holy Father, and ardently petition the Holy Spirit to bring us a holy successor. We have provided traditional prayers for you amongst our coverage. This is not a time for apprehension; it is a time of hope and anticipation.

It is a special time to give thanks to God for the incredibly fruitful years of Pope Benedict’s papacy. Since Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took the name Benedict XVI nearly eight years ago, the Church has benefited greatly from his leadership, as our stories on pages one, 12, 14 and 16 readily attest.

The world, not just Catholics, will be watching the momentous events of this transition unfold. And we look forward to bringing you comprehensive coverage of the upcoming conclave that will bring the Catholic Church her next shepherd.

God bless you, and God bless our Pope!