We asked readers to share their thoughts on the new pope. Here are some excerpts e-mailed to The Spokesman-Review:
“He will carry on in the tradition of John Paul II. Our new pope has a thorough knowledge of church doctrine and knows how the Vatican works.”
Bonnie Stichart, Colville
“Surprises can happen, but I do not expect one of the conservatives surrounding the past pope to suddenly come out of the closet as a follower of the Dalai Lama. At this point in the state of the world at the verge of annihilating itself either by environmental disaster or by World War III, we need true spiritual leadership. The Catholic Church is the largest religious group with single top-down authority and unquestioning followship. Leadership from this pope and his church could change the world. If he, himself, could believe and teach that God is not an arbitrary vindictive god, he could begin the process of relieving human hearts from fear and open them to love. Just think what love for neighbor could do when actually practiced.
Connie Miller, Greer, Idaho
“I think that Pope John Paul was a wonderful person, and the church needed a person of his character – for a while. But he was there for a very long time, and I am disappointed to see that it looks like, with the election of Cardinal Ratzinger, the church will probably not have the opportunity to move in a different direction. I still have hope however. I remind myself that it was President Eisenhower who appointed Earl Warren to the Supreme Court. Sometimes these people surprise us.”
Anne V. Williams, Ione, Wash.
“If he’s as conservative as they seem to think he is, it doesn’t look like priests will be marrying or that women will be priests. … The global community has changed so much, even since Paul II took over, that he’ll have his hands full, I’m sure. I’m waiting to see whether the young people who embraced John Paul II will switch their allegiance to this pope.”
Louise Long, Spokane
“This is not a particularly good day for American Catholics who love the church as if it were their mother, but bleed over the seemingly heartless rigidity with which Cardinal Ratzinger (with Pope John Paul II’s blessing) dealt with those who’ve worked so courageously for a more inclusive and compassionate religion. I’m sure there are millions of practicing and nonpracticing Catholics who still hope (to cite one example) to live long enough to see women ordained as priests. But, on that front and others – like ending the silly taboo on birth control – it’s a fading hope.”
Tim Connor, Spokane