Some Tacoma-area Catholics say what they want most in the next pope is a spiritual leader who will guide and inspire them by what he says and does.
A person of color would be nice. So would a speaker of multiple languages, or someone who supports a greater role for women in leadership. One pastor said he’s hopeful the priesthood will be opened to married men.
More than 100 cardinals will meet starting Tuesday to pick a new pope to lead a church challenged by clergy sex abuse scandals, shrinking numbers of priests and recent leaks of sensitive Vatican documents. Benedict XVI retired Feb. 28 as pope and head of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
Benedict, 85 and in frail health, became the first pope in 600 years to give up his office while still alive.
For four local views on the desired qualities of a new pope, turn to the back page.
Family: Husband, Miguel, and three sons ages 10, 8, and 18 months.
Church: Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Tacoma.
No matter who Catholic cardinals pick as the next pope, Rosales says she’s confident he will be the right choice.
“I have so much faith in God,” she said. “I don’t think anybody in particular knows what we need but God. The next person will be exactly what we need.”
Rosales, a Mexican American, said it would be nice if the next pope is of Hispanic descent. But ethnicity and age aren’t major issues for her.
“I think everybody is looking for spiritual guidance,” she said.
The pope offers that guidance as a “role model.”
“He imitates God a lot better than anyone can,” Rosales said. “He’s just a person that leads us through the narrow path so we don’t fall, or stay behind, or get lost.”
Rosales is excited to hear who the next pope will be. A new pope – the third in her lifetime – will mean a change in leadership style.
“He’s not going to be like Pope Benedict,” she said. “He’s going to have his own way of running the church.”
“I’m eager. It’s very important,” Rosales said. “It’s going to be our new leader.”
REV. STEPHEN LANTRY
Church: St. Leo Catholic Church, Tacoma.
An hour after the end of Benedict’s pontificate Feb. 28, Lantry asked parishioners during Mass to pray that the next pope whom cardinals select will be the “Spirit’s choice.”
Lantry said Benedict’s resignation after eight years as pope is “an example of humility” for Catholics to incorporate into their own lives.
Lantry said in an interview he’s been so busy preparing for Palm Sunday and Easter he hasn’t thought much about the next pope. The Jesuit priest oversees a parish of 825 households.
In general, Lantry wishes for “someone who’s really pastoral who can engage the world.”
He is hoping for two changes that would be dramatic.
The first is to open up the priesthood to married men. Lantry said he supports altering the celibacy requirement to accomplish that.
“It’s one of the most serious things facing the institutional church,” Lantry said. “Increasing numbers of faithful Catholics are going to be deprived of regular Eucharist because the number of priests continues to decline in the Western church.”
His second wish is for a pope from a different continent.
“I’d like to see a pope from Asia,” Lantry said. “That culture is so profoundly different than Western Europe and North America. It would bring a very new perspective.”
SHANNON HARDER RONALD
Family: Husband, Dave Ronald, and two grown children.
Church: St. Leo Catholic Church, Tacoma.
Harder Ronald said she’s looking for someone who will be an inspirational and spiritual leader with his words and actions.
“What really fires my soul is when I’m challenged and called to love God, my family and others more deeply,” Harder Ronald said. “That’s what Jesus asks of us: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’”
If that happens, she said, other matters will work themselves out “because we’re looking at each other with respect and dignity, wanting the best for everyone.”
Harder Ronald is a lay presider for communion services, a member of the finance council and head acolyte at St. Leo. Professionally, she works as a life coach and professional organizer.
She said she supports an increased role in leadership for women in the church. If people are viewed with respect, “then we’ll want them to share all the gifts they bring, which includes leadership,” she said.
Family: Wife, Dao Phan. No children.
Church: St. Ann Catholic Church, Tacoma.
Vu lists several of Benedict’s qualities when asked what he wants in the next pope.
He praised Benedict for “his firm stand on religious, moral and social issues of our time.” Benedict worked “to promote harmony and reconciliation” and emphasized Catholic tradition, Vu said.
Vu is a retired teacher and translator who came to the United States from Saigon in 1992. The Vietnamese community at St. Ann – a multicultural parish – numbers about 900.
“I don’t expect the new pope to be exactly like Pope Benedict,” Vu said. “But I do believe many of Pope Benedict’s efforts will be continued with undiminished fervor.”
Vu hopes for a much younger pope – in his late 50s or 60s – “so that he has the necessary strength and energy to guide (St.) Peter’s boat through the stormy sea of modern time.”
And he wants a pope who can speak several languages so that he can make papal visits to many countries.
Vu said papal trips to Vietnam, China and even North Korea would help “millions of people who are suffering from hunger and political and social injustice.”
He said the next pope will face many challenges.
“But I am optimistic about the future,” Vu said, “believing that the Holy Spirit will work wonders to help the church at this critical time of her history.”Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647