The conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI will begin on Tuesday. Though the only preferences that count are of the 115 cardinals under the age of 80, the man they choose (yes, it must be a baptized male) will lead the flock of 1.16 billion Catholics around the world.
So we wanted to take a look around that world for a peek at what the faithful want in a new leader. We'll find out soon enough if the cardinals -- and the holy spirit -- were listening...
MEXICO -With their three voting cardinals off to Rome, Mexico's faithful were polled by Notimex news agency. Though the cardinals may be looking for a man with good management skills to help improve the governance of the Church, the masses say they want a new pope who is youthful, liberal-minded, and relates well to the people: humility, intelligence and charisma were three words that came up most often.
The Mexican faithful believe that the least important characteristics are that he is bilingual and good-looking. Notimex also reports that six out of 10 believers in Mexico believe one of their own cardinals could be the new head of the Church.
BRAZIL - Brazil is the country with the most Catholics in the world, yet its numbers have dropped by nearly 10 percent in almost a decade. This is in part thanks to the neo-Pentecostal churches that offer jovial music and practical advice. A similar approach has been revolutionized by Grammy-nominated pop star and Catholic priest, Marcelo Rossi, and the AP notes that many Brazilians believe Rossi's style of aggressive evangelization is how the Catholic church should proceed.
O Globo reports a note of caution from Cardinal Geraldo Majella, emeritus archbishop of Salvador, who worries about the priesthood turning into an ordinary career choice. "We see people looking for priesthood as status. Mainly in poor areas, some come without a shoe and then get a very nice suit. Education has been a bit superficial."
ITALY - Italian popular Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana says that they want to see a fuller involvement of laity in the Church community, but only in a "mature" way. They want a pontiff who is able to spread the gospel within today’s culture and proclaim the message of Christ to an indifferent society, ever more impervious to ethical values.
A church in Nigeria (neajjean)
NIGERIA - The AP reports that worshippers in the developing world have been praying for a cardinal from a poorer, non-European nation to ascend to the throne of St. Peter. Ifeadi, a father of three girls said that, “the church must take sexuality out of its preaching because what they are saying is not what is happening on the ground. This is why they are losing members.”
PHILIPPINES - Many people have said that the new pontiff needs to really understand the suffering in the poor nations, and can reach the third, or even fourth world. The Philippines would love to see the first Asian pope be their own Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle. Although he is quite young at 55, a pope who is spiritual, yet media savvy, would be a dream to Filipino Catholics. As soon as Benedict announced his resignation, #TagleForPope appeared on twitter, and continues to trend.
— Vicky Tuano (@VickyTuano) March 8, 2013
AUSTRALIA- According to The Australian, Human Rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson hopes for a more progressive pope, one who could embrace a change in which children in any religion would not be confirmed until they turn 14. He said that Joseph Ratzinger would be remembered for ignoring the abuse of over 100,000 children.
U.S.A. - The New York Times/CBS News conducted a poll and found that 66% of American Catholics want a pope who is “younger, with new ideas,” but 26% would prefer to stick with someone “older with more experience”. Fifty-four percent want the new pope to “change to more liberal teachings,” but 18% want someone even more conservative than Benedict XVI.
From the State-Journal Register, in Springfield Illinois, opinion was mixed between those who wanted a Pope who shifted to a more progressive stance on doctrine and those who thought the successor to Benedict should consider his firm line. But several were more focused on the "leadership style" of the new pontiff. “I would like to see the new pope as charismatic and able to relate to a wide variety of people,” said Kristopher Yoon, a third-year student at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield who attends the Young Adult Mass at St. Viator’s Chapel.
FRANCE - Le Parisien surveyed the French faithful about what they want in a new pope, and the response was something new, i.e., neither John Paul II, nor Benedict XVI. Europe 1 reports that a reformer would be broadly supported by French Catholics, although, 89% of all French (69% of churchgoers) want the Vatican to end its doctrinal ban on birth control.
GUADELOUPE - On the French-speaking island of Guadeloupe, there is no hometown cardinal to pull for, but with 95% of the population Roman Catholic, locals will be tuning in to next week's conclave coverage, reports the Maximini news site. “We must pray for those who are voting to choose with an open mind, to avoid intolerance,” said Guadeloupe priest Samson Dorival.
Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.
At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.
The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.
The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.
Praying inside a Dutch mosque.
Broken trust in Islamic community
Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.
All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.
It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.
"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
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