Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI provides a great opportunity for the Catholic Church to modernise, by allowing women priests and bishops, promoting contraception, and embracing equal rights for gay couples. Writing for MSN he said:
Having broken the tradition that a Pope is for life, millions of grassroots Catholics hope the new Pope will seize his moment to revise harsh Vatican policies that have caused so much harm, and which have left the papacy socially marooned and out of touch with the modern world.
Unless the new Pope makes significant changes in doctrine and articulates a new caring, compassionate Catholicism, his church will become increasingly out of step and irrelevant to modern life - as well as continuing to cause great misery to millions of people.
So, we're all shocked at the resignation of the Pope, but what happens next?
Pope Benedict XVI has made the announcement that he will resign as the head of the Roman Catholic Church due to his "advanced age."
Who will follow in Pope Benedict's footsteps? Is it time for an African pope?