Pope Benedict was elected pontiff at the age of 78. While many believe it's important to have a younger pope, they say there are more significant factors in naming a successor. "I think more it's going to be experience and what kind of things that he's dealt with as a priest, as a cardinal," said 24-year-old Misericordia University Admissions Counselor Marianne Guarnieri. "What kind of questions has he had to answer, what kind of difficulties has he had to overcome, how knowledgeable is he."
A new pope will inherit several issues in the United States including a shortage of priests. Where that new pope comes from could have a significant impact on shaping the short term future of Catholicism in America. Misericordia University Religious Studies Chairman Joseph Curran, Ph.D. told Eyewitness News, "A Latin American pope is more likely to be concerned about social issues. One of the leading contenders they talk about right now is I believe is the Archbishop of Quebec and he might be someone who'd be a little bit more familiar with some of the concerns of the American church."
Dr. Curran believes it's vital that the new pope has a global vision. "What the church really needs now is a leader who can be oriented towards that diversity of problems." It's a vision that faithful followers support. "We have to remember that we are members of the universal church," said Mr. Pheasant. "I think the closer we draw to that the better off the catholic church in America will be."
Dr. Curran believes it's a near certainty that the conclave of cardinals will choose a considerably younger successor to Pope Benedict.