Papal election: Your questions to David Willey

David Willey David Willey In Rome answering your questions #AskDavidBBC

Pope Benedict XVI has officially resigned, saying that he "will simply be a pilgrim" starting his last journey on earth.

BBC Rome correspondent David Willey answered your questions in a live Twitter Q&A.

Here is an edited version of the session which was held on Tuesday 5 March.

Question from John in India via email: If the Pope is endowed to withstand anything on the Earth, then why is he resigning the ministry of Pope? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: He knew it was a job for life, but his progressive frailty made him change his mind. He'd been planning this, we hear. #AskBBCDavid

Question from Richard in Florida via email: Why aren't women good enough to be priests? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: Not question being good enough. Simply tradition. Could be changed eventually. #AskBBCDavid

Question from Tom Roberts on Google+: What legacy will Pope Benedict XVI leave? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: Inevitably, he'll be remembered as the Pope who stepped down. Only in time can we tell if legacy is positive or negative. #AskDavidBBC

Question from Martin in the UK via email: Are candidates with good access to social media and the media at an advantage or in the conclave? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: Cardinals have already switched off their TW and FB accounts. Cardinal Ouellet said thumb skills essential for next Pope. #AskDavidBBC

Question from @Ryancormack1 on Twitter: Will this new pope tackle the problem of paedophiles in the Catholic church?

David answers: He will have to because Benedict left a lot of unfinished business eg in Italy bishops still not forced to report to police. #AskDavidBBC

Question from ‏@AppleFM on Twitter: Are there normally toilets in the Sistine chapel?

David answers: As recently as 1978, cardinal electors shut inside Conclave used chamber pots. But now all modern conveniences available

Question from John in Brighton via email: Is there pressure on any new pope to abolish celibacy? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: Pressure is growing for church to abolish compulsory celibacy rule - make it optional. Unsure whether new pope will act. #AskDavidBBC

Question from @AudreyAva on Twitter: Could a candidate from one of the African, Asian or Latin-American countries be elected Pope this conclave? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: Quite possible, although Italians who dominate the Conclave will try to get one of their own elected, I believe. #AskDavidBBC

Question from @carmelpilgrim on Twitter: Are the cardinals discussing (privately or publicly) the news re. Keith O'Brien? What impact will it have? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: O'Brien's fiasco caused shock/horror among cardinals. But several believed to have skeletons in cupboard. Impact uncertain. #AskDavidBBC

Question from @seunbolajiabati on Twitter: Will Pope Benedict attend the installation ceremony of a new pope? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: Good question. We don't know. Today cardinals sent him message of thanks for his pontificate. #AskDavidBBC

Question on Facebook from Andrew: Is it true that a country wanted to extradite him for crimes yet the Vatican is his safe haven? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: During BXVI's visit to UK in 2010 there were threats to try and arrest him. But they came to nothing. Vatican is safe haven. #AskBBCDavid

Question via text from Martin in Bristol: Paddy Power are offering Evens odds on next pope taking the name "Peter". What do you make of that?

David answers: The name is chosen by the new Pope. Most popular name in history is John, not Peter. So don't bet on it :-) #AskDavidBBC

Question from ‏@JudyinRome on Twitter: Can Church learn to show greater respect for women, including the nuns who have given their lives to it and others?

David answers: The Church must show greater respect for the numberless women religious who have devoted their lives to God. #AskDavidBBC

Question from @JulianTapping on Twitter: Wat wud happen if the conclave could not find anyone amongst them to be pope? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: They can in theory even call in an outsider and ordain him. But this is pretty unlikely. #AskDavidBBC

Question from @MerlinGTA on Twitter: With all the backroom pols, do cardinals still believe in the spiritual nature of the Papal election? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: The Holy Spirit hovers over proceedings. But he's an element of last resort. Naked internal Church politics is name of game #AskDavidBBC

Question via email from Arnab S. Roy in Mumabi: How would a non-European Pope be received the world over? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: It's mainly a non-European Church now. So it would be logical. Many European Catholics would be happy, I suspect. #AskDavidBBC

Question from @BelguRuss on Twitter: Are there any true 'progressive cardinals' left since all of them were appointed by JPII or BXVI? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: Looking at 'papabili' it's difficult to detect potential reformers. But sometimes new 'old Popes' surprise (eg John XXIII) #AskDavidBBC

Question from ‏@mattwhitby on Twitter: Why does the World need a Pope? Surely religion is outdated thinking in the 21st Century. #AskDavidBBC

David answers: Catholic Church needs a Pope, not the world. Religion outdated? Attempts to ban religious belief usually fail even in 21st C. #AskDavidBBC

Question from @christopher on Twitter: Do cardinals enjoy conclave as it is a rare event? Or do they dread it as it is too demanding an occasion? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: They feel huge sense of responsibility. But they find it a very useful social occasion to test temperature of the Church. #AskDavidBBC

Question from @filbert32 on Twitter: When will conclave start, and how long does it generally take from that start for a new pope to be elected? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: No date fixed yet for start. Usually lasts less than a week. Last time it was two days for the white smoke to come out. #AskDavidBBC

Question from @rothquaffer on Twitter: How damaging was Vatileaks? Will it affect conclave? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: Vatileaks was a disaster for the Vatican and left BXVI speechless. Cardinals are in fact already discussing its impact #AskDavidBBC

Question from @imperial_mint on Twitter: Who is your dark horse candidate? (bearing in mind the saying 'he who goes in a Pope, comes out a cardinal')? #AskDavidBBC

David answers: I have two dark horses. Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna and Cardinal Scherer of Sao Paulo. But the field is still wide open! #AskDavidBBC

That's the end of the session, thank you for all your questions. Sorry I didn't get to answer all of them. #AskDavidBBC

And remember to keep following the BBC's coverage of these historic days at the Vatican. Ciao! #AskDavidBBC

You can follow David on Twitter:

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