What qualities must the pope have?

March 11, 2013

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

Tauran, 69, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said he hopes the new pope will, like Pope Benedict XVI, know how to teach the Catholic faith to others. "Christians must be able to give a reason for their faith with knowledge of the contents of this faith," said Tauran, who comes from France. "He must also be a pope very open to dialogue with cultures and religions." In an interview with the French Catholic agency, I.Media, Tauran also said the next pope really will have to "reform the curia" and promote more coordination among offices. "The ideal age is more or less 65 years . . . even 70 years if he is in good shape."


Cardinal Thomas Collins

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Toronto

Collins told Catholic News Service Feb. 26, "Each cardinal brings his own sense of what are the key issues, but they will be very much determined by where he's coming from." The cardinals must listen to each other before speaking, he said. Cardinals from Western Europe and North America, Collins said, see secularization and the New Evangelization as the big issues facing the Church. "Holiness and ability and experience" are important.


Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, Bogota

Caracol Radio reported that Salazar said the pope needs to be "more human, that is closer to the needs of humanity and the world today." Other than that, he said Feb. 25, he still needs more time for prayer, reflection and conversations with the other cardinals because you cannot just "jump on one candidate."


Cardinal Christoph Schonborn

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Vienna

Schonborn told the magazine Profil the next pope must have the "strength of faith, which enables him to distinguish between the pillars of Catholic doctrine and mere decoration." At the same time, he said, "in today's media world, the pope is the most visible preacher of the faith." He will have a "key role in determining whether people are inspired" by the path the Church indicates as the way to friendship with God and ultimately to salvation.


Cardinal Justin Rigali

Rigali, 77, the former archbishop of Philadelphia, told Knoxnews.com Feb. 25, the most important qualities include communication, media and language skills to "get his message to the people," an ability to connect with different kinds of people and the strength to "confront all the issues that affect humanity," including issues of social justice and the defence of human life.


Cardinal Francis George

Cardinal Francis George, Chicago

George, 76, said the next pope must be "very aware" of the need for vigilance in preventing clergy sex abuse and accept a policy of "zero tolerance" as the universal law of the Church. Sex abuse is a "terrible wound on the body of the Church," George said March 4. Although the "incidence of abuse is practically zero right now as far as we can tell," the cardinal said, "there are still the victims. And the wound, therefore, is deep in their hearts and minds very often, and as long as it's with them it's with all of us, and that will last for a long time. So the next pope has to be very aware of this."


Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Washington

Wuerl, 72, said the next pope must be someone with the requisite energy and mastery of modern communications media to promote a revival of the faith in increasingly secular societies around the world. "The secularism that is just engulfing our culture," he said, "will be weighing heavily on the hearts and minds in the conclave." A pope who challenges secularism will "require an enormous amount of physical energy" for travel and communication, Wuerl said.


Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell, Sydney

Pell, speaking to The Australian newspaper Feb. 23, referred to St. Teresa of Avila, who reportedly said that when looking for a confessor, she would prefer "a competent theologian" over "a pious fool." Pell said he probably would support "not necessarily the most holy person, but the person best equipped for the job," regardless of nationality. The Australian wrote, however, "if that person happens to be from the U.S., Pell believes he would be unlikely to be elected." Said Pell: "If the pope is a saint, I'm sure it's an enormous advantage."