Opinion column: What changes are to come?

By Angela Loiacono

If you’ve ever read Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, the present situation in the Roman Catholic Church may stir up memories of Robert Langdon’s chase to save the Vatican from the evil Illuminati during a papal conclave. I hope real life does not bring the challenge of finding explosive antimatter along with the choice of the new pope. While hundreds of thousands of people are working their way into St. Peter’s Square to mourn the death of Pope John Paul II, the cardinals must now face the decision of who will become arguably one of the most powerful and influential men in the world. My problem is, I don’t know what I want the next pope to represent.

Since self-nominations aren’t allowed and Roger Powell Jr. will most likely pursue another path, the next pope will be chosen from a group of 183 cardinals. Most anyone who has ever heard of Romanism will be paying attention to the smoke coming out of the chimneys. But the issue isn’t who the next pope will be. Many of us are lucky if we can name more than one cardinal. The real question at hand is – what changes will the next pope make?

Support the Daily Illini in College Media Madness!

Help the Daily Illini take back the top spot in the College Media Madness fundraising competition! See the current ranking here.

learn more
donate now

I’ve found myself torn here. Should the next pope be a man who will uphold the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and keep its doctrine static? Or should Roman Catholics find themselves following a pope who promises to recognize changing times and conform to the issues and trends of the modern day?

Half of me wants a traditional man with the guidelines of Catholicism firmly placed in his right hand at all times. Just because a new pope is going to be ushered in does not mean that changes must be made within the church. And despite the changes that are constantly occurring around the world, religion and faith should be consistent and firm. While many aspects of religion are up for interpretation, they are also divine and sacred and were meant to be left just as they are. But the beliefs of Pope John Paul II, including opposition to abortion, divorce, woman being ordained, and rescinding the celibacy rules for priests, were controversial notions in the church. The Roman Catholic Church has became divided on many of these issues.

The other half of me hopes the new pope is a man willing to see the modern world and what it encompasses. Although I struggle to understand how people can give up on a marriage, divorce is something that some people need in order to lead a happy life. While I also don’t think anyone should go back on a vow they have taken, divorce is part of the world now.

Why shouldn’t women be ordained? There are many, many spiritually gifted women who would make excellent priests if they were given the chance. While some nuns and sisters currently are given the opportunity to address audiences, the church may further benefit from their homilies during mass. If nothing else, they deserve the chance to convey their message in the same manner priests do.

In regards to lifting the celibacy rules for priests – that’s a hard one. I strongly feel that one of the greatest things anyone can experience is having a family with children. There is a special kind of love and an amazing feeling that is encompassed in having a family. And quite honestly, I think there are many priests out there who would make amazing fathers. If a man is blessed with the Holy Spirit and guided into a vocation, they shouldn’t keep him from having children. I don’t think he should be out having drinks on a Saturday night with a bunch of women, but I feel he should be given the chance to marry while ordained and have a family.

Whoever the next pope may be, I just hope he uses his power and status to improve all that he can.