With the cardinals of the Catholic Church beginning the process that will result in the election of a replacement for Pope Benedict XVI, what should the papal conclave consider when choosing the next pope?
For the sake of the relevance and growth of the Catholic Church, the College of Cardinals might consider a man who, as pope, would champion more reasonable stances and help the church to become better suited for modern times. But that wouldn't be the right move.
If the Catholic Church is to be the least bit credible, it can't operate relative to the times or in a way that reacts to changing societal norms. It should stay exactly how it is -- even if it may appear to some to be sexist, homophobic, closed-minded and/or antiquated.
Since, Catholics would argue, God's primacy, God's teachings and God's expectations of man aren't subject to change, the cardinals should not elect a man whose vision of the church is subject to change.
The cardinals should, however, strongly consider electing the first non-European pope in 1,272 years -- especially since most of the Church's recent growth has taken place in Mexico, South America, Western Africa and the Philippines.
Also, unlike the last time the conclave met, they should refrain from electing a cardinal with any history of covering up sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.
— THE FREE PRESS
Bishop Rick Stika
Diocese of Knoxville
The Catholic Church believes that the pope is the successor of St. Peter. As Jesus chose Peter to shepherd the early church, we also believe that, through the prayerful reflection of the members of the College of Cardinals, the Holy Spirit will give them the needed wisdom to choose the successor of Benedict XVI.
He should be, above all, a man of prayer who, through the grace of God, will be the face, the hands and the voice of Jesus Christ. He should be a witness of gospel values who will be humble enough to preach the Holy Scriptures and courageous enough to bear the cross of Christ when called upon to take up the cross and follow.
He should be a man who can bridge the present world with the traditions of the past and look to the future with a spirit of hope. Above all, he should be a man of prayer, humility and possess the virtues of leadership grounded in faith.
Father Paul D. Williams Jr.
Pastor, St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Dalton, and St. Toribio Romo Mission, Chatsworth, Ga.
The cardinals should look for a man who will stay the course. In many places throughout the world, and here in Northwest Georgia, the Roman Catholic Church is bursting at the seams, not because it has adapted itself to the spirit of the age, but because it is counter-cultural.
In the United States, the Church stands in contrast to a radical secularism promoted by a government growing ever more hostile to religious freedoms, as evidenced by the Health and Human Services mandate. Those who imagine the next pope will be in favor of abortion, contraception, gay marriage, women priests, married priests or that he will preach anyone other than Jesus Christ as our Savior, are going to be very disappointed when they see the white smoke. At St. Joseph's, we'll be celebrating!
Grand Knight, Knights of Columbus Holy Family Council 6099 (Chattanooga)
Ultimately, I believe the College of Cardinals will seek to elect a man of very deep faith, with an ability to effectively communicate the gospel to the faithful, and to those who would challenge Church teachings. Attributes like age and geography are practical matters that may be considered, but should certainly be subjugated to the larger need for someone who can continue to carry on the "new evangelization" in all parts of the world, and win more hearts and minds in doing so.
As Catholics, we are all called most especially to pray for the Church and the College of Cardinals during this process, so that they will, with guidance from the Holy Spirit, be able to discern and elect the person best suited to carry out the demands of the office.