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Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world, including Chicago's Francis Cardinal George, have been arriving in Rome, as the pope steps down on Thursday.
ABC 7's Alan Krashesky caught up with Cardinal George as he arrived for the historic goodbye.
The stage is already set in Vatican City. Fifty-thousand have tickets for the pope's farewell event, but that's just for those who have seats for the event. Additionally, tens of thousands more will fill Saint Peter's Square and spill out to the streets of Rome outside.
Cardinal George arrived in Rome Tuesday afternoon, a day earlier than he had planned, in order to beat the winter weather in Chicago.
"I wanted to avoid the snow in Chicago," Cardinal George said.
Yet, as he to prepares to say goodbye to Pope Benedict, Cardinal George is well aware of distractions -- reports that a Scottish cardinal facing accusations of inappropriate behavior won't be in the conclave -- and Cardinal George wants to know the result of a secret Vatican investigation into the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal involving the pope's butler.
"I think we should have some sense of that report," said Cardinal George. "I think the pope has already said he read it and it will be given to his successor, so in what sense we'll be informed of its contents, I don't know. It's up to the pope, and that has to be respected."
Now that he is in Rome, the gravity of the task ahead is sinking in. Cardinal George will play a significant role in choosing the next pope.
"I was thinking of that on the plane, because there's a lot of preoccupations at home, and I still have a few loose ends to put together," said Cardinal George. "When your with others that are faced with the same challenge, they reinforce each other, and I think that will happen quickly."
We also have an answer to the question that has plagued many of us: What do you call a retired pope? The answer: He's going to be "emeritus pope." He will continue to wear white as well.