I read the news reports in the Great Bend Tribune (via Associated Press report):”With no pope, Church leaderless for now” (March 1 issue). With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Roman Catholic Church is technically without a leader. However, as the news article noted: the papal camerlengo (or papal chamberlain), will take over the day-to-day administrative duties. So, the Church isn’t exactly “leaderless”.
I am just hopeful that the Cardinals under age 80 who are empowered to vote at the papal conclave to select a new Pope, will deliberate carefully. Few people realize that according to Canon-law, any baptized Roman Catholic male could (in theory) be selected as the new Pope. Customarily, in recent centuries, the new pontiff is always selected from the pool of Cardinals themselves---but this need not be the case. In all my travels, there is one cleric whom I consider to be the most gifted prelate I have ever met. He is Archbishop James Patrick Keleher, the retired Archbishop of Kansas City. His selection is unlikely. But I wish it would happen. Although he is age 81, he has the vigor of a man twenty years younger. He energizes any congregation by imploring them to say an even louder “Amen”, by his recitation of “I can’t hear you.” To which the subsequent “Amen” can rock the mightiest stone Cathedrals or the most modest of local Church parishes. I have attended Mass with him in over a dozen localities in several U.S. states. I have even traveled with him to pray for prison inmates at the Federal Prison at Leavenworth. This man doesn’t just “talk the talk.” He genuinely “walks the walk.” He is well-liked by Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox and Jews. This is the type of man the worldwide Catholic Church needs at this pivotal time in history.
Currently, this transition-period is called “Sede Vacante” or “vacant see”. I am just praying that the Cardinals will select a new, modern, more moderate and merciful Pope. The next Pope needs to weed-out the bad apples of the Catholic Church. Any priest or bishop who sexually abuses anyone or covers-up such a scandal needs to be defrocked and jailed. Parishioners should not have their tithes and money offerings they intended for God’s work to be diverted to pay “hush money” or compensation. The only true restitution is “jail time” for the offender. Worldwide Catholics, but especially North American Catholics need a new Pope who can relate to our modern culture. Granted, our continent has its share of greed and decadence. The new Pope shouldn’t just “chide”, he should “inspire”. I’d like to see a merciful Pope who shows the extended hand of friendship and compassion. Such an example would be emulated by millions of young people. I hope the Cardinals make a wise decision so this can be the dawn of a beautiful new era.
James A. Marples,