He added, "As for the Church's mission in our country, yes, our credibility and moral authority have been undermined. It will take time, perhaps a long time, to recover these intangible but important realities. But we cannot be defeatist. The answer to this sad episode is not to throw in the towel. We need, rather, to renew our faithfulness to Jesus Christ and to go about our business humbly."
While Benedict has no direct involvement in the selection of his successor, his influence will be felt: He appointed 67 of at least 115 cardinals set to make the decision.
Cardinals must vote in person, via paper ballot. Once the process begins, the cardinals aren't allowed to talk with anyone outside of the conclave. They cannot leave until white smoke emerges from the Vatican chimney -- the signal that a new leader has been picked.
Lombardi said Monday that 4,300 journalists have been accredited to cover the papal conclave.