Local Catholics Have High Hopes for New Pope

By David Chang
|  Sunday, Mar 3, 2013  |  Updated 10:49 PM EDT
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After the resignation of Benedict XVI, local Catholics are speaking out on the church's future. NBC10's Rosemary Connors has the story.

NBC10Philadelphia.com - Rosemary Connors

After the resignation of Benedict XVI, local Catholics are speaking out on the church's future. NBC10's Rosemary Connors has the story.

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It was a different mass than normal at St. Philip Neri in Queen Village on Sunday. Those who attend one of the oldest parishes in the archdiocese spent most of the day wondering about the future of the Catholic Church.

Benedict XVI’s papacy officially ended on Thursday when he became the first pope in 600 years to resign. Cardinals from across the globe have gathered in Rome for meetings as the church prepares for the election of a new pope.

“At every church in the archdiocese we’re encouraged to pray for the cardinals who will be gathering on Monday,” said Father Jim Oliver of St. Philip Neri.

The first pre-conclave meeting is scheduled for Monday morning, headed by the dean of the College of Cardinals Cardinal Angelo Sodano. Father Oliver told NBC10’s Rosemary Connors that the conclave of cardinals will officially commence later this month and that the new pope’s mission will be molded by the needs of Catholics around the world.

“I really think it will be great to just call people back to the Church,” said Father Oliver. “Call people back to Christ.”

Leon Plocha of Queen Village says he will closely watch the process unfold.

“We need to do something to draw back the people who have had a lapse in their faith,” said Plocha.

Plocha says his mother came from the same village in Poland as Pope John Paul II and remained close friends with him while he served as leader of the church.

“For you and your family who had strong ties to John Paul II, this must hit home,” said Connors.

“It does,” replied Plocha. “We’re looking to see if we find someone who will be as spiritual as John Paul II.”

While parishioners at St. Philip Neri stand behind Pope Benedict’s decision to step down, they also say they’re looking forward to seeing what his successor can do.

“This will probably be the first Pope to use an iPhone,” said Marianne Molinaro. “Imagine if he has a Facebook account! Could you imagine ‘liking’ the pope on Facebook? We just hope the new pope is certainly plugged into what the modern needs of the church are.”
 

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