Catholics ponder future with new pope

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm •  Published: March 3, 2013
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The Southeast Asian country, for the first time, has a cardinal being mentioned as a papal candidate, Father Antonio Luis Tagle. That encouraged the Rev. Joel Sulse as he celebrated Sunday Mass at the Santuario de San Antonio parish in an upscale residential enclave in Manila's Makati business district.

"How we wish that, you know, there will be a pope coming from the third or fourth world," he said, so that the pontiff would understand the suffering in poor nations.

Some were looking for even more radical change.

Nigerian medical laboratory technician Boniface Ifeadi, who was worshipping at the Holy Trinity church in Johannesburg, said while he believes in abstinence, the reality of human nature makes it difficult to follow church doctrine that's generally against condom use. Benedict did say in a 2010 interview that if a male prostitute were to use a condom to avoid passing on HIV to his partner, he might be taking a first step toward a more responsible sexuality.

It was a significant shift given the Vatican's repeated position that abstinence and marital fidelity were the only sure ways to stop the virus.

Some nuns and priests even give out condoms in Africa, which has the highest number of AIDS victims of any continent in the world. South Africa suffers the biggest number of AIDS cases of any country.

"The church must take sexuality out of its preaching because what they are saying is not what is happening on the ground and that is why they are losing members," said Ifeadi, a father of three girls.

The Rev. Russell Pollitt of Holy Trinity said he believed the fact that the numbers of cardinals from the West outweighed those from the developing world lessens the chances of a pope from Africa, but he didn't think that necessarily would be a bad thing.

"Our African cardinals tend to be conservative and likely would be less open to any new initiative that I think the church is in need of — someone new to bring about an openness for new dialogue about ecumenism, about our relationship with other religions, about priestly celibacy and homosexuality," he said.

Yet not everyone was seeking change.

In Washington, D.C., a parishioner at St. Matthews Cathedral said he sought a continuation of the conservative line of the last two popes in the coming papal choice.

"I'd like to see a very strong leader who would bring the church back to its traditionalist past and its best years, in a sense, picking up where Benedict left off," said parishioner John Gizzi. "Pope Benedict had a tough job, much like Rudy Guilianni in New York, and he cleaned up a mess. He took a lot of criticism for it, he made enemies, but he left the place better off when he came in."

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Associated Press writers Michelle Faul in Johannesburg, Jim Gomez in Manila, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw and APTN producer Thomas Ritchie in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow Bradley Brooks on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradleybrooks

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