NEW YORK (CBNewYork) – Now that Pope Benedict XVI has left the Vatican, many Catholics are conflicted over what they want from the next pope.
A special Mass was held when the pope officially stepped down at 2 p.m. local time. Bells tolled and will not ring again until a new pope has been elected.
The faithful gathered for the special Mass, where they offered prayers for the former and future pope.
“This hasn’t happened in 600 years so it’s a big step in the movement of Catholicism forward,” a parishioner from Bridgewater, N.J. told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa.
“Being a young person, I always am into the most charismatic people you can find,” the woman’s daughter added.
While there is no clear front-runner, among those making the list of cardinals considered legitimate candidates to succeed Benedict XVI is New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, albeit as a long shot.
While many in New York do not think Dolan will be elected the new pope, there are still some worshippers who think a surprise may be in store.
“I hope it’s Dolan because he’s in my building,” an employee of the Archdiocese told Papa. “He’d be a great Pope.”
Catholics are split over whether they hope Benedict’s successor should preserve tradition or make changes in Catholic teaching, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
“A little broader view on how we should all come together,” one man said.
“I’m an old-time Christian and I think that’s the way we need to stay,” said another.
The survey also found that most said it would be good for the church to select a pope from a developing country.
“Roman Catholic population in the global south, in Latin America, Africa and even in Asia, is expanding rapidly,” said George Demacopoulos, an expert on the Catholic church history at Fordham University. “I suspect that there will be a great deal of diverse opinion amongst the cardinals on which direction the church should go.”
At St. Patrick’s Cathedral earlier Thursday, many said Dolan would be a good choice for the church.
“I think he’s just a regular guy who can talk to regular people like us,” said Gary Schmaltz.
“We love him, he’s wonderful,” said Winifred Joyce. “He’s a wonderful human being, everything about him.”
Students at Visitation Academy in Paramus also thought Dolan would make a good pope.
“The Cardinal of New York, Tim Dolan, is one of the names and I think it would be pretty cool,” said 8th grader Drew Kitz. ”To have an American pope.”
As the conclave to elect a new pope gets under way next month, students said they’ll be watching closely.
“I think I’ll definitely learn more about my faith, definitely more about the conclave which I didn’t always understand in having it explained to me,” said 7th grader Andrea Malik.
Principal Sister Philomena McCartney has used the transitional time as a teaching moment for her students.
“Humility, that when they themselves realize they cannot measure up to a position that they may be in or cannot measure up to whatever is expected of them, even in high school, that they announce it to whomever and ask for extra help,” she said.
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