ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
The papal mission
Publication Date : 13-02-2013
More than 1 billion Catholics across the globe are now waiting for a new spiritual leader following the abrupt resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on Monday. While expecting major changes to the Catholic Church, they may hope for tougher measures from the new pope in response to the embarrassing scandals that have tainted the church in the last few decades.
Hopes also abound that the new supreme guardian will be more open, listen and will accommodate the growing aspirations of the grass roots, including the involvement of women and laymen in church organisations and activities.
Millions of Catholics have abandoned their church for several reasons, including their perception that religious activities outside their formal church, such as evangelical activities, are more relevant to their spiritual lives.
It will also be very understandable if they hope the election of the new pope — which will involve more than 100 cardinals across the world, including one from Indonesia who still has the right to vote — will reflect the real demographic composition of Catholics from countries in the developing world, like Africa and Latin America.
Hopefully, the Easter celebration at St. Peter’s Basilica on March 31 will be presided over by the new pope.
Benedict’s sudden resignation on Monday attracted worldwide attention because he had only been at the helm of the Holy See for almost eight years, succeeding the popular John Paul II who passed away in April 2005. Benedict is the first pope to step down since Gregory XII in 1415.
That ill-health was cited as the reason behind Benedict’s retire is largely understandable, although many people are willing to go beyond the official statement amid various sex and corruption scandals involving priests and church officials.
During his tenure, Benedict faced complaints and even costly lawsuits over sexual abuse implicating Catholic priests in the past, especially cases in Western countries. The church was blamed for allegedly covering up the scandals and more cases will surface unless the church takes action against those found guilty.
Whoever is elected the new leader of the church, Catholics and followers of the world’s other faiths will hope that the new pope can bring the church closer to the hearts of the people.