Catholics call this period without a Pope "Sede Vacante", or "Empty Seat", and while the Cardinals from around the world have gathered in Rome to begin the process of picking the next Roman pontiff, American Catholics are left to ponder what the church means to them and how they regard it's presence and practices.
FOX News Radio's Eben Brown reports in our special series:
It's estimated that one-in-four U.S. citizens is a Roman Catholic. So what do they think about the Vatican and the Church as a whole?
(Catholic Man) "I think it's viewed as both as a troubled organization as well as a center of values."
He is just one Catholic, of course. But there are some who think the world could use a Roman withdrawal...
(Catholic Woman) "It needs to be more accepting of other cultures out there and other religions."
That doesn't mean a faithful man dislikes the church...
(Catholic Man) "As a Catholic, you know, I certainly respect the Vatican and its authority, but its history over the last several years with problems with scandals is very upsetting. The Church doesn't seem to want to do anything about it."
But another thinks the Church's behavior makes it hard...
(Catholic Man) "Molestations and the supposed cover-ups. I think it makes it difficult. It's hard to know whose telling the truth and who to believe."
Eben Brown, FOX News Radio.