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CON: New pope should be elected based on ability

March 10, 2013 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 10, 2013 at 10:11 p.m.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, top center, prays next to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco during a vespers celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

When electing the new pontiff to head the Roman Catholic Church, the College of Cardinals is required to prayerfully search for a leader who is capable of a great number of responsibilities.

His Holiness must be charismatic and capable of proper governing. He must be someone of great repute, and gifted in spiritual leadership.

As head of the Catholic Church, the pope is called to unite nations.

And with so many requirements and expectations attached to the papal job description, some Catholics are less concerned with the pope's race and nationality and more concerned with his ability to lead.

The Most Rev. Bishop David E. Fellhauer, of the Diocese of Victoria, said when the papal conclave begins Tuesday, voting cardinals will not be so concerned with the new pope's nationality.

"I'm intensely interested in who the next pope will be. But as for his country of origin, I consider that to be totally speculative at this point and not very relevant," Fellhauer said. "Naturally, I'm not privy to the cardinals' current informal discussions and eventual conclave deliberations. My guess, though, is that the nationality of the new pope will hardly be a deciding factor in their vote."

In recent years, most popes have been elected from Europe, though popes in previous centuries have been elected from Syria, Israel and Africa.

Other Victoria Catholics agreed with Fellhauer's views that nationality is a secondary consideration when electing a pope.

Matthew Robles, a student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, said electing a non-European pope may help modernize the church, but he feels it may take away from the tradition of having a European pope.

"I'm all for the church adopting more open-minded views and treating everyone with love and respect, but they should stay true to tradition," Robles said.

Another Victoria resident, Luis Garay, said he doesn't mind who is elected as long as he can do the job properly.

"He's representing the whole Catholic Church, and I just want him to have the church's best interest at heart," Garay said. "I want them to make the best choice for the church. It doesn't matter where he comes from as long as he's the best person for the job."

PRO: Non-European pope would modernize church



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