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New pope’s views spark debate in Rome

Kelly Meehan | Thursday, April 21, 2005

ROME – Saint Mary’s sophomore Sarah DeShon was not expecting a new pope to be elected so quickly. When her roommate informed her Tuesday evening that a pope had been named, she knew she only had about 45 minutes to arrive at the Vatican to see the presentation of the new pontiff. She began running to St. Peter’s square.

She had company.

“I think it was amazing to see so many people running through the streets, especially several priests and nuns,” DeShon said.

Word spread quickly among Saint Mary’s students studying in Rome after German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was announced as the next pope.

Sophomore Katie Osmack was informed of the election of the new pope while in class when her theology professor received a call from a friend on his cell phone. She only had time to run to her room to drop off her books and grab her camera before heading to St. Peter’s Square.

“When I got to the square I thought it was remarkable that the crowd became so silent in anticipation of the introduction of the new pope,” Osmack said.

DeShon found that while standing in the crowd, even the weather was omniscient of the day’s events.

“It was cloudy and sprinkling for several minutes before the new pope was announced, and moments before his introduction the clouds broke and the sun emerged from behind the Basilica,” DeShon said.

German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stepped out onto St. Peter’s Basilica’s balcony at 6:48 p.m. and introduced himself as Pope Benedict XVI, the new leader of the Catholic Church. He then led the crowd in a prayer and gave a general blessing to all those present.

The crowd welcomed him with cheering and an overall sense of praise. However, some students speculated he was not the best choice for the future of the Church. Some Catholics desired a more liberal pope, or one from a Third World country, in hopes of further uniting Cath-olics across the world.

“I feel that the new pope is going to be a transitional one because of his conservative nature,” sophomore Meaghan Herbst said. “It would have been nice to have a pope from a Third World country because the Church needs change.”

Sophomore Cathy Theiss was slightly more at ease with the idea of Ratzinger serving as the new pope.

“I am not surprised by the cardinals’ decision; he was the logical choice in following Pope John Paul II,” she said. “I do wish, however, that they had gone with more of a moderate than a conservative.”

Saint Mary’s sophomore Allison Beyer felt similarly disappointed in the cardinals’ choice.

“I was focusing my prayers on changes surrounding the role of women in the church, amongst other issues, so I am a bit disappointed in the selection,” she said. “Nevertheless, I will remain hopeful and trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to work through the new Holy Father and the body of the Church.”

Osmack re-mains optimistic about the Church’s future with Pope Benedict XVI.

“I am very much anticipating the role of Benedict XVI in the Church,” she said. “I do not know much about him, but I am confident in the cardinals’ decision in choosing the best leader for the Church.”