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Catholic Conversations: Priests on the Papacy

Thursday, February 28, 2013

WNYC

Joseph Ratzinger began the next phase of his life in the Roman Catholic Church today, stepping down from his position as Pope Benedict XVI to begin a quieter, less public life as "Benedict, pontiff emeritus." Cardinals will soon begin the process to select his successor.

WNYC's Amy Eddings is hosting conversations with Catholics to find out what anxieties, concerns and hopes they have during this time of transition. We're hearing this week from two priests, both from the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.

Rev. Jim Cunningham has been a priest for 18 years and is pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. The parish has about 400 families -- most of them of Irish or Italian descent -- with some of the gentrifying neighborhood's young singles and families starting to show up at Mass. He says he'd like the next Pope to be younger, embrace social media, and restore faith in the institutional Church, which has been plagued by scandals.
"The biggest challenge that we face is evangelization, trying to evangelize people who are baptized Catholic but don't practice their faith, and perhaps others in the community who have no relationship with Got whatsoever or are looking for something. How can we [...] reach out and make people feel welcome?  Technology needs to be a big part of it."
Rev. Michael Perry was ordained 41 years ago, and is pastor of Our Lady of Refuge Church in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, a diverse parish that offers Masses in English, Spanish and Creole. 
"People are looking for the new pope to help us move ahead because we seem to be bogged down at this point, in a tradition that doesn't have the same values that it used to have.  My people are really good, loyal Catholics from the West Indies, the Caribbean, from Puerto Rico, from Mexico.  They see things that don't make sense in their cultural terms. So there needs to be a better understanding of cultural diversity in the Church."
What do you think?  What qualities should the cardinals be seeking in the next Pope? Leave us your thoughts below.
Tune in to Catholic Conversations on Saturdays during Lent and the papal conclave to hear what others are saying.
Catholic Conversations airs Saturday mornings during Weekend Edition Saturday from 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM on 93.9FM and from 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM on AM820.
Rev. Jim Cunningham has been a priest for 18 years and is pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. The parish has about 400 families — most of them of Irish or Italian descent — with some of the gentrifying neighborhood's young singles and families starting to show up at Mass. He says he'd like the next pope to be younger, embrace social media, and restore faith in the institutional Church, which has been plagued by scandals.
"The biggest challenge that we face is evangelization, trying to evangelize people who are baptized Catholic but don't practice their faith, and perhaps others in the community who have no relationship with God whatsoever or are looking for something. How can we [...] reach out and make people feel welcome? Technology needs to be a big part of it."
Rev. Michael Perry was ordained 41 years ago, and is pastor of Our Lady of Refuge Church in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, a diverse parish that offers Masses in English, Spanish and Creole. 
"People are looking for the new pope to help us move ahead because we seem to be bogged down at this point, in a tradition that doesn't have the same values that it used to have. My people are really good, loyal Catholics from the West Indies, the Caribbean, from Puerto Rico, from Mexico. They see things that don't make sense in their cultural terms. So there needs to be a better understanding of cultural diversity in the Church."
What do you think? What qualities should the cardinals be seeking in the next Pope? Leave us your thoughts below.

And tune in to Catholic Conversations on Saturdays during Lent and the papal conclave to hear what others are saying.

Catholic Conversations airs Saturday mornings during Weekend Edition Saturday from 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM on 93.9FM and from 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM on AM820.
You can hear our latest Catholic Conversation by clicking the audio link above.

 

Editors:

Julianne Welby

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Comments [14]

Brenda from Brooklyn from Flatbush

The commenters here make the anti-Catholic bigots on the NY Times comment threads look tame by comparison; so much for the stereotype of NPR listeners as civil, urbane intellectuals. As for the qualities to seek in the next pope: humility, holiness, and the confidence that comes from surrendering one's life to God. And charisma/media savvy wouldn't hurt at all. Those qualities are rare among those who make it to senior management (maybe the Curia should be added to the new buzzword "C suite"). But, as we saw with John Paul II, not impossible.

Mar. 09 2013 09:11 AM
Laurie from NJ

A week ago or so, Talk of the Nation did a segment on "Why is the media spending so much time on the Blade Runner case?" To which I respond "Why is the media spending so much time on the Pope?" I personally find the Pistorius case, while not especially important, more intellectually interesting than the internal politics of one particular branch of one particular religion. The Pope has no relevance for most Americans, except insofar as his organization interferes with our internal politics and government. Catholicism's special treatment by the media and under the law is troubling to me.

Mar. 03 2013 09:40 PM
Robert from Manhattan

What Bernie calls "anti-Catholicism" is not a prejudice. Criticisms of the behavior and nature of the Catholic Church come from honest evaluation of centuries of damning evidence. If it is any comfort to Bernie, most ... if not all ... of organized religion is, at least for this listener, similarly worthy of scorn.

Mar. 03 2013 04:26 PM
Anon

The next pope should commission some major art. The one "competitive advantage" Christianity always had over other monotheisms was the embrace of art. When I think of Catholicism I think of oil paint. Build the brand as "the creative person's faith".

Mar. 03 2013 01:02 PM
chuck Sheiko from SF

General paternalistic liberal snobbishness to every Christian or Jewish belief group, in my opinion, too. Like in Holy Sovietica, yet with sarcasm under a bit more control.

I think Benedict was the greatest BP of Rome since Saint Clement, at least intellectually. I'd advise the next few pontiffs not to be one up on him as far as being the face of the church. I suppose that the ogres will try to put the axe to his image, as they did to Pius XII's. But the Hoary Lord of the Thorn never abandons his yshorim/elect.

Mar. 03 2013 05:37 AM

Miriam is right. Seems to me the first thing to address is the fact that the church has an infrastructure that excludes our opinions, feedback, concerns and has for a long time. Perhaps if the church fixed their tin ear, we'd be able to move along on a more fruitful path.

Mar. 02 2013 04:27 PM
Bernie from Bronx

Seven comments, and in four of them I find the words and phrases cult, propaganda, corrupt, "choke on its own vomit," and "it took 400 years for the Church to acknowledge that the earth revolves around the sun." Clearly anti-Catholicism remains the one acceptable prejudice among NPR listeners.

Thanks, WNYC and Amy Eddings, for your balanced and thoughtful coverage.

And even though I'm Catholic, I agree with Miriam, I'd love to see a handsome and funny pope.

Mar. 02 2013 04:11 PM
Jean from U QC


So today NPR in NYC puts on comments etc from 2 " Fathers " from NYC about their " cocerns ". I just wish NPR would treat its lsteners with more respect. A very large majority of us do not care about the Roman Cathoic Church, the Pope or their local brethern in NYC! THe vast majority of their congeregants it seems in NYC are newer ones to the US that have yet to see how corrupt the C Church is, how many kids and adults have been abused by this " church ". So please NPR please skip being part of the Catholic Propanganda machine!

Mar. 02 2013 12:27 PM
Robert from Manhattan

Evangelization is job one??????? UGHHHHH!! That's just a fancy term for a cult trying to perpetuate itself.

Mar. 02 2013 10:26 AM
Gail from Mamaroneck, NY

I think that the next Pope ought to be humble before the Lord, be firm in the teachings of the church, and genuinely care for the souls of all humanity...men, women, and children.

Mar. 01 2013 06:51 PM
Kate from Brooklyn

The next Pope should support the civil prosecution of child-molesting clergy and the bishops who protect them, allow married priests, let women join the priesthood, and encourage the use of condoms and family planning in underdeveloped countries to alleviate poverty and reduce disease.

It only took the Church 400 years to acknowledge that the earth revolves around the sun, so maybe we can look forward to these developments sometime around 2413.

Mar. 01 2013 06:39 PM
miriam katin from New York

The question is, what kind of qualities we would like to have in the new pope.
For us, he could look like Javier Bardem and be as funny, clever and dynamic
as Roberto Benigni.
But then .... we are Jewish.

Mar. 01 2013 09:09 AM

Hopefully they will elect a "company" man who will continue status quo. Or even better one who will pull tighter on the reigns helping the RC Church to continue to choke on it own vomit - from the flesh of innocent children. The less RC Church, the better off the world shall be. It is a force of evil. The conclave is filled with criminal felons who should be prosecuted and jailed. The institution itself should be prosecuted in the USA under RICO and forced to forfeit its assets or at the very least lose it tax exempt status. At the international level the Hague would be a start with prosecution for crimes against humanity.

Mar. 01 2013 09:09 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The next pope has to do what each pope is asked to do: model holiness and prayer, teach Catholic truth, defend and provide the Sacraments, evangelize to the ends of the earth, and strengthen the brethren in the faith, and to reach out to the non-Catholic world. But, witin all those considerations, the cardinals are trying to elect whom the Holy Spirit wants.

But the pope does not do this on his own, but as the agent of Jesus Christ. It is his Church.

One great challenge is Catholics who have not, through no fault of their own, been educated in their faith, as stated in the quotes above.

According the the prophecy of St. Malachi (1100AD, Archbishop of Armagh), this pope is the first pope who could be the last pope.

Mar. 01 2013 05:58 AM

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