Local Catholics' Papal Wish Lists

By Jones, Barbara | Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), February 12, 2013 | Go to article overview

Local Catholics' Papal Wish Lists


Jones, Barbara, Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)


At churches, schools, offices and across social media, Pope Benedict XVI's historic announcement that he's resigning triggered a wave of surprise, a flurry of tributes, and speculation about how the Roman Catholic Church will evolve under his successor.

Worshippers expressed astonishment at the news they'd heard when they awakened for morning Mass, and priests quickly tucked a reference to Pope Benedict into their sermons.

Leaders at the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the nation's largest, scrambled to react to the pope's statement that he will step down Feb. 28 because of failing health.

Archbishop Jose Gomez quickly posted a statement on his Facebook page, expressing affection for the 85-year-old pope and describing him as "one of the wisest persons in our world today."

Cardinal Roger Mahony - who was part of the 2005 conclave that elected Benedict as pope - blogged his admiration for the pontiff's teachings.

"His homilies and addresses were so amazing because he was not speaking about Jesus Christ as a topic, but he was speaking about Jesus from a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus himself," Mahony wrote on his blog.

Mahony was publicly rebuked for covering up the sex-abuse scandal in Los Angeles, but retains his full powers as a prince of the church. He said he's looking forward to traveling to the Vatican next month to help choose the next pontiff.

The next pope, Vatican observers say, will have to figure out how to create a sense of unity among the world's 1.2 billion Catholics at a time when demographic and cultural shifts have reshaped the church.

"The average Catholic today is female, Filipino or Brazilian, poor and a young mother with less than a sixth-grade education," said Juan Martinez, associate provost for diversity and international programs at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena.

"These faithful Catholics are looking to the church for economic justice, support of family structure ... and how God participates in the world."

Dorian Llywelyn, director of Catholic Studies at the private Loyola Marymount University in West Los Angeles, said the shift in the demographic heart of the church from the U.S. and Europe to Africa and South America could play a significant role in the selection process.

Already, Cardinals Francis Arinze of Nigeria and Peter Turkson of Ghana have emerged as potential successors, along with a handful of favorites from Europe and North America.

"You have voices in numbers, but they may not be voices the West wants to hear so the biggest challenge is going to be unity," said Llywelyn, who was ordained in Wales in 1990. …

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