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PRO: Non-European pope would modernize church

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.

The papal conclave will begin the process of electing the new Roman Catholic pontiff Tuesday.

Unless sleeping or eating, the College of Cardinals will be sequestered in the Sistine Chapel until it chooses Pope Benedict XVI's successor.

A number of non-European cardinals have been rumored to be leading candidates to succeed Benedict, though none have officially been added to the short list.

Among them, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer are thought to be papal material.

Some Catholics, like the Rev. Dan Morales, of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Victoria, believe that electing a pope from a non-European country may help bring a new energy to the Vatican.

"The growth of the church is happening in the Third World and growing powerfully in Africa and Asia. So a pope from the Third World would bring a new energy and new approach to evangelization," Morales said. "As a church, we don't do a lot of talking in the first world about the value of the poor and the strengths the poor bring to the church."

Morales said he recognizes the papal election is more comprehensive than a bid on a person's nationality. And in the end, he knows the choice will not be of man but of God.

"I get a little excited thinking about a pope from the Third World, but I think the bottom line is the choice is going to the result of a lot of prayer. And it's going to ultimately be the choice of the Holy Spirit," he said.

Jose Romo, a Catholic resident of Victoria and Mexico native, said he, too, supports the idea of electing a non-European pope.

"It's about time," he said. "They should pick someone from abroad. Some of the most devoted Catholics are from places like Latin America and Central America."

Others agreed.

Cyrus Schicke, a non-Catholic, also of Victoria, said a non-European pope may make Catholicism a more approachable religion throughout the world.

"I always see the pope and the church as so (ornate) with gold and other things. Selecting someone from a country like Africa would make it seem more grounded and humble," he said.

CON: New pope should be elected based on ability



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