Nightly News   |  February 26, 2013

Final days for Benedict ‘very difficult’

Huge crowds are anticipated for Pope Benedict’s final papal audience tomorrow. Soon the conclave – including controversial California Cardinal Roger Mahoney – will select a new leader for the Catholic Church. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>>> now to the attention surrounding the vatican . with the catholic church currently rocked by new scandal as the church's cardinals get ready to gather to elect the new pope, we learn today that the outgoing pope benedict will be called -- what he will be called after he is pope and what life will be like for him, because after all, remember, an abdicating pope is all new territory for the catholic church . nbc's anne thompson remains at the vatican for us tonight. anne, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. they are already closing off the streets around st. peter's square in anticipation of the huge crowds for pope benedict 's final audience tomorrow. the cardinals who will elect his successor have started to arrive, including controversial american cardinal roger mahoney , who is here despite calls for him to stay home because of his role in shielding sexually abusive priests in los angeles . these final days for benedict have been very difficult. he's seen a cardinal forced to resign, intense speculation over an internal investigation into leaked documents. but today the news was all about his new life. in retirement, he will be called pope emeritus. he will still wear white, just a simple catholic and not the cape we're used to seeing. his red shoes will be traded in for a pair of brown loafers. in the modern church, this is the first time there will be two living popes. it's a potentially awkward situation, but few expect benedict to interfere with his successor. brian?

>> anne thompson at the vatican in rome for us tonight. anne, thanks.