Cardinal Discusses Future of Catholic Church, New Pope
Jul 15, 2005
Pope Benedict XVI will continue the legacy of Pope John Paul II through open dialogue as he leads more than 1 billion Roman Catholics, said one of the 115 cardinals who helped elect him.
(FeaturesWashington, D.C. - Scripps Howard Foundation Wire – infoZine, July 12, 2005) - Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, described Pope Benedict as an "extraordinary man" at a National Press Club luncheon Monday.
McCarrick described Pope Benedict as "friendly, somewhat shy, engaging, utterly competent and humble," after spending time with him in the conclave where the cardinals worked together to elect the 265th pope. Pope Benedict XVI was elected April 19 after Pope John Paul II's April 2 death.
Pope Benedict had a "wonderful relationship" with Pope John Paul II, McCarrick said.
Many have asked whether the beliefs and teachings of Pope Benedict will differ from Pope John Paul II, but McCarrick noted the church's teachings cannot be changed and one pope's beliefs will not differ from another's.
McCarrick also discussed the conflict many Catholic Americans have between their faith and political beliefs, particularly on such "life issues" as the death penalty, euthanasia and abortion.
McCarrick said he hopes that Church leaders and its members can resolve their differences through dialogue. Pope Benedict will go about his papacy in a "dialogical" manner, aiming to keep an open relationship with bishops and cardinals, McCarrick said.
Despite other religious leaders' objections to evolution, the teachings put forward by Pope John Paul II argue that evolution can be accepted by the Catholic Church as long as the "hand of God is recognized as being present," McCarrick said.
Amid controversy surrounding priests who have refused communion to members with opposing viewpoints, McCarrick said he does not personally believe in denying communion to anyone, but said he hopes that communicants come to the church in "good faith."
The church is suffering from a diminishing numbers of priests, and McCarrick blamed society's lack of a sense of permanence.
"We are living in a world that is afraid of absolute," McCarrick said.
Divorces and the lack of men going into priesthood can both be attributed to young people's belief that "nothing is forever," McCarrick said.
While ordaining women is out of the question, their roles in the church continue to expand, McCarrick said. He noted that many of the top positions in the Washington diocese, such as the directors of communication and education, are held by women.
"I couldn't continue to work without them," McCarrick said.
Despite rumors that the pontiff might speed up the normal process for Pope John Paul II to be named a saint, McCarrick said that Pope Benedict began the beatification process but it will proceed without any exceptions that could destroy its validity.
Pope Benedict will be well-equipped for world travels, as he is fluent in English, German and Italian, and can speak French and Spanish well. While the pope does not have set travel plans, he will make an appearance at World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, and might make trips to Istanbul, Turkey, and Israel, McCarrick said.
McCarrick described his experience in the conclave and voting for the next pope as "humbling" and "kind of scary."
When the cardinals were making their decisions, they asked themselves, "Lord, tell me which of my 114 brothers I should vote for," McCarrick said.
"In the course of a few moments, history changes," McCarrick said. The morning Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was chosen, McCarrick said he they chatted and enjoyed a meal together. By evening, Ratzinger was the pope.