‘We need a pope willing to live in the world that we live in’
The papal audit – what the people think
23 February 2013
ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND
Louise Macdonald (40s), opera singer, Glasgow
I was very surprised when the Pope announced he was resigning, but I thought it was a very wise decision. I admire him for being humble enough to make that decision.
I would like to see someone who can bring unity, ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue. I would also like to see someone who can look at the issues which are contentious in the church and deal with them - to be open to discuss issues like women priests, for instance. I think that will be the last thing that comes, but it would be good to have someone who was prepared to have a dialogue about it. I personally don't see any logical reason why there shouldn't be women priests.
Marie Cunningham (71), a retired teacher, Glasgow
I was very surprised when I heard the Pope had resigned. But then when I saw him on television I thought he looked very frail and that it was the right thing to do for him and for the Church. I would like to see a new Pope from Latin America or Africa. The Church is growing in these parts of the world. It's a universal Church, not a European one and that should be reflected in the Pope.
Simon Rose (30), naval officer, London
I was a bit surprised, but I think it's ok to resign. I would like to see a new pope who is a bit more progressive, more inclusive. I think this is a chance to change on a whole range of issues, particularly women priests and married priests.
Fiona Kinnear (45), food retailer, London
I was really shocked initially and then I saw how frail the Pope was. I think he's done a very courageous thing. The new pope does need to be more progressive, for example on contraception in very high HIV areas, particularly in Africa. That is why it may possibly be good to have an African pope.
James Devaney, primary school teacher, London
I think it was very forward thinking of Pope Benedict to step down. He was right not to wait until he lost all his effectiveness. As to the next pope, I would like someone who is a bit younger, can be here for longer and who can reach out more directly to people. I don't really mind where he comes from as long as he is caring and easy to talk to.
Michael Petersen (44), chiropractor, London
I hope we will get a pope who will represent Catholic society better than Pope Benedict XVI. I would like the next one to be non-European and to have a much stronger profile in global politics. I'm Danish - and like the Poles and Norwegians - we found the election of the last pope hard because of our war history. And although Pope Benedict did a fantastic job, I hope the church will not put us under a similar stress again. I would like a pope, wherever he is from, who represents an open minded church. The Catholic Church has to start taking a much more vigorous role in bringing about peace in the world."
Eileen Elliot (88), London
He is a very sensible old man. With his health failing he cannot lead at a very very difficult time in the Church. It's a terrible responsibility. He can't get about from one country to another anymore. He has been very sensible and God bless him! As next pope I want to see a man of great spirituality who will address the conflicting issues in the Church like sex abuse, the lack of vocations - all the things where he has got to give us a great spiritual lead.
Josephine Lauwers (82), London
I thought it was a good idea because if he is not well enough to do the job there is no point carrying on. It's his age as well. I think we could do with a younger pope in future. I want him to bring the Church up to date and deal with the situation with Aids and condoms and covering up for the sex abuse in the Church which has been very damaging. I also think that priests should be allowed to marry. We have had so many married priests come over from the Church of England and it's worked out fine. Their wives have been a great support to them.
Deirdre Brett (64), teacher, London
I was surprised. I think that he has made the right decision for himself if his health is failing. It's a very large organisation and with the secularisation of society perhaps he feels that somebody younger would be able to cope more. A lot of people will be very sorry to see him go. Whether the new pope is going to be more liberal I don't know. As for the new pope I would like to see someone from Africa or South America. We need to get young people back, perhaps it is someone who has the charisma of John Paul II who did involve the young people and they did feel great love and affection for him.
Kevin Gallagher, primary school head teacher, London
I was surprised because I thought he was there for the duration and also that popes don't do that. It's nearly 600 years since the last pope resigned. I have got to admire his strength of character. I bet the Curia forced him out anyway. I don't want to see an Italian as the next pope. Absolutely not.
Aidan Wheeler (51), civil servant, London
I feel it was a brave thing to do and I hope his successor is chosen before Easter. I hope it is done with care and is not rushed. It is very important for the world to set a good example. I want to see a man who is a bit more extrovert, in a good way. Possibly a cardinal from Africa or possibly the one from Honduras.
Anne Harvey (79), writer and broadcaster, London
I was shocked by the suddenness of the Pope's resignation. I just think he's weary of the world. He's had to cope with so many issues, like gay marriage and the increase in abortions. We need somebody who won't lose the traditions and old beliefs yet acknowledges the changes in the world too.
Alexander Portelli (27), banker, London
I wasn't really shocked, and I don't have a problem with him resigning. We need someone as the next pope with a lot more leadership qualities who isn't scared to push the boundaries and is resolved the deal with the Church's problems. The biggest of those is child sex abuse which was hidden for too long. I want a Church that reaches out more to young people from underprivileged backgrounds and with difficult families who will hep them find stability.
Laura Louise Nevard (25), special needs support worker, London
The Pope isn't part of my life and what I am doing. I saw Pope Benedict at World Youth Day in Sydney. It was a good experience but it would have been even if he hadn't been there. The Pope isn't part of being a Catholic. It's what happens in my parish and with my parish priest that is real. But I would like the next one to be an African, someone who would break through the barriers.
Michael Egan, financial professional and chair of trustees of Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, London
I was extremely surprised to hear that the Pope had resigned. I thought it was a courageous, far-sighted decision. It has reminded people that the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, and bishops can resign.
[For the new pope] healing is still the biggest job. There are so many people who just can't listen to the Church at the moment because of scandals in the Church - and, yes I mean the child abuse but I mean financial as well. I happen to be a financial professional in the city of London so I know something about this. The Church's behaviour, even financially, has been pretty shocking. And I think it's become very hard for the Catholic Church to be listened to on quite simple matters of morals - never mind matters of faith.
Kate Powers (24), student, London
I was surprised to hear about the Pope's resignation - I'd never even thought about popes resigning, it hadn't even occurred to me that this one was considering it!
I hope [the new pope] prioritises tolerance and working together. One of my favourite things about Pope John Paul II was that he did a lot of work with other
faiths and focusing on young people, whereas I feel like this pope has been more about tradition, and focusing on less practical and more on strict traditional
interpretations of things. I'd like to see an opening up of the Church. I think it'd be interesting to see a pope from the developing world - but more than that a pope who seems more willing to live in the world we live in and to work with different groups of people.
Anita Estacio (61), retired, London
The resignation of the Holy Father has come as a complete shock, because of its suddenness and the intended time frame of his stepping down, but considering his age and on-going health issues, his decision to vacate his seat is understandable. I wish him well for his retirement, and look forward to the election of a new pope who will continue to defend the values and traditions of the Church and promote greater communion with all peoples of the world.
Peter Austen, communications consultant, East Sussex
It is a sensible decision and one that sets a useful precedent for the future. I hope he [the Pope] is a moderniser but from what we are being told there does not look like a great chance of that happening. There really does need to be change in the Church, if it is going to grow and draw people back in. The new pope needs to achieve this aim without compromising on the basic tenets of the faith.
Susan Taylor, a eucharistic minister and reader at Our Lady of Ransom who was member of a religious order for 20 years, East Sussex
You need to be fighting fit to do the job. It is a huge responsibility in a difficult environment. He [the new Pope] needs to be someone who will be taken seriously, also someone who the Press cannot dig up some scandal about. There needs to be a greater tolerance, not just banishing people who disagree...We need to admit errors, not just get in behind the Pope and say there is nothing wrong.
Marie McCabe, an associate theatre practitioner at the Eastbourne District General Hospital, East Sussex
He went very gracefully showing great courage. Pope Benedict hasn't wavered in sticking to the rules and was not frightened to speak the truth about Catholicism. He knows what he has stood for. The Pope will be chosen by the spirit, so it doesn't matter what nationality he is.
Michael Docherty (50), supermarket worker, Hartlepool
I was just getting up on a day off when my son roused me with news the Pope was resigning. My first reaction was I couldn't believe it. Thinking about it later, I reckoned he had done his job and was looking after his health, just like anyone else. I think that shows the job should go to a younger man.
When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected, it was a surprise for me. Later I was shocked by the report he had been a member of the Hitler Youth, but I realise he had no choice. He came forward after that, just like Pope John Paul II did.
His visit to Britain was great. His arms were open to everyone and that impressed. It changed my image of him. It doesn't sound right for a Catholic to say that, but it was true. For the next pope we need someone with a young vision. The cardinals need to put their heads together and get someone in their late 50s and bring the Church into a younger outlook, asking questions like: will it be a good thing to bring in married priests? Older cardinals will be against that, but it would help to recruit more priests.
Lyn Boyd (65), retired teacher, Hartlepool
I was washing up when the news came through on the 11am news on BBC Radio 4. I stopped everything, eager to hear more on TV. I was very sad after the initial shock. His decision was enormous - radical but showing real humility. Theologically he's a giant and he hasn't been afraid to express the truth as he sees it. Yet there's something humbling about how he has resigned. It's about God, Jesus and truth, not about himself. It crossed my mind that Pope Benedict's resignation echoes St Paul's famous letter to the Corinthians that there will come a time when the gifts we've been given by God will recede and what will be left is love. Before he was elected Pope, I was privileged to see him in the street coming out of the Vatican. He was dressed in chinos, I remember, and had a gentle smile and ordinariness.
For his successor my present favourite is Cardinal Schönborn from Austria. We now need a pope who will listen, have a collegiate approach and show trust in his fellow priests and the people of God. Right down to parochial level, it's all about trust in the Church. The hierarchy have barricaded themselves in and they need to open those doors!
Jeremy Cain (42), church youth worker, Hartlepool
When the natural question of why? had been answered by Pope Benedict's resignation statement, I felt a real sympathy for the man. It was a difficult decision for him to take. The influence of the Pope doesn't impinge on my day-to-day working, but in the big picture I would have liked him to have proposed a renewed vision for the Church at this point in its history.
His visit to the UK was an undoubted success in his human contact and in what he said. A new pope will have to connect with leaders in the world, speaking with them to keep faith on the agenda as an essential ingredient and to combat religious extremism. A simple example would be to see the Pope meeting Muslim leaders - a visual symbol that religion isn't a threat but a positive influence.
The next pope will also need to find a new way of the Church working in the world - with a new language and new ways of communicating. We need to reach out more. We're too busy looking inward and concerned about what we have.
Anne Powell (67), Hull
I was surprised, but on first reflection, pleased. Pope Benedict looks frail and ill and the Church needs strong leadership and guidance to face all the many problems which confront it today. After further thought, I was concerned that perhaps the political in-fighting at the Vatican may have demoralised him to such a degree that he felt he had to abdicate.
Primarily I want a prayerful, holy man. Second, someone who stands outside the factions of the Vatican political forum. Third, a man who will consider the benefits which married clergy could bring to the Church (Saint Peter was married after all!) and fourth, a man who will lead the Church in truly valuing women equally with men.
Margaret Markey (73), Lincolnshire
We need a strong man, a leader who's a very good communicator, who can take on the in-fighting and the growing rift between first world and third world. Above all, we need a holy man.
Theo Gillick (40), Lincolnshire
He's a very smart man who's never put a foot wrong yet. I think, physically, he's very weak and the demands have been vast. He's not able to deliver any more. I want continuity and stability. I'm opposed to women priests and married priests. Such wishes are impractical.
Chris Gallagher (44), head of RE, Our Lady's Convent School, Loughborough
As an RE teacher, I'd found Benedict's teachings highly valuable and a great counter to moral relativism. This stepping down is a great sacrifice and a real witness of humility. The Church needs a new lease of life. Lent is a perfect time. We can all pray for the outcome in finding his successor. I'm concerned that England and Wales will not have a vote in the process even though Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor can take part in the consultation. The next appointment will be a conservative because of the rigged amount of Italian cardinals. I'm not a traditionalist. I want Benedict's successor to maintain the truth of the Church, to be the light and salt of the World, not to follow his own agenda but to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and inspire.
Caroline Gwatkin (62), Hampshire
Initially, in line with the rest of the world, I was surprised. And now, although I can sympathise with the reasons he has given, I feel disappointed and let down. The fall out from this resignation has been detrimental to the image of the church. Some of the postings on Facebook have been downright critical. Part of the job description is that the position of pope is a job for life.
The principal role of pope is to shepherd his flock through the dangers and temptations we all face. There are so many problems we all face, and we all need practical guidance in a more direct manner. We need a pope who has a clear vision of the Catholic Church and its role in society today, we need someone who is not only a thinker, but also a doer. I hope he will be more open to reform, less shackled by trappings and will listen closely to the grassroots Catholics.
Anne Maybury, Minister of the Eucharist, Dublin
I was shocked initially but I was really sad for him because I do think he is unwell. I think it is the right thing for him to do, to step aside and let a younger man take over the reins, especially in this day and age when the responsibility is huge. I think it is a job for a younger man. But I wouldn't like to think that he would have any input into the next pope's decisions and rulings because I think once you are gone, you are gone.
Bernie Howard, Dublin
I was shocked as I hadn't ever heard of a pope resigning before so I didn't think it was possible. But if he felt that he wasn't able to do the job that was his decision, and he must think it was the right decision. I would like to see somebody younger so that this wouldn't happen again and somebody not too conservative - yet somebody who won't bring in too much change either. A man of prayer and a man of action on justice.
Kevin Mullaly (41), parish pastoral worker, Dublin
I would like to see a man who is pastoral but with a practical pastoralness - that he has experience of what Catholics are experiencing on the ground across the world. That he is a man who understands that Catholicism is different in the different areas, in Latin America, Africa, Europe or Asia and that he understands that and can relate to the different types of spirituality that Catholicism has. That he can bring the Good News to the everyday situation and everyday liturgies so that the Eucharist speaks to our lives. A man who can bring the Good News to life but can carry it and be authentic in it and can hold on to the truths of Catholicism as well. That he can lead a church which is human and divine and as pope be a servant of the servants of Christ.
Aleksandra Witkowska (70), retired, Warsaw
I speak for many when I hope Pope Benedict's successor will, as far as church rules allow, be less conservative and more attuned with the spirit of the times. No one here wants change in the daily life of the church. But everyone I know wants the Church less involved in politics and less intrusive in telling people how to vote.
Anna Dryjanska (20), student, Warsaw
It would be nice if, instead of condemning IVF, contraception and abortion, a new pope would deal with sexual inequalities caused by male violence against women.
Anka Krajewska, businesswoman, Warsaw
If I could dream, I'd like a pope like Pope John XXIII, open to the world and friendly. I'd like a pope who wished to convert the church to the 'good path' of dialogue with the world, openness to people and their experience, faithfulness to the church of the Gospel - and who'd cut back on empty ritualism, testify to the Gospel through action not empty talk, and require greater humility from priests and a greater sense of service to people and God.
John Dayal (65), lay Catholic leader and general secretary of the All India Christian Council, New Delhi
The resignation came as a brief shock. I did not remember the canon law provision that popes can resign.
Papacy is a continuum and we do not like to see a sharp break in that continuum. When popes die the Church get mentally prepared for the transition. In this case this case too, the Church is preparing for a transition after Pope Benedict abruptly ended his office.
The new pope will know and understand what is going on in the larger world in relation to Catholics, Christians, and people of other religions.
The new pope also will give a sense of confidence to lay people and other members of the Church to enable them to renew faith. The cases of pedophile and Vatileak stories are not helping Catholics to have confidence in the leadership of the Church.
Mushtaq Asad (53), theologian, Lahore
I am glad of the tradition the Holy Father has set for the universal Church. He has a realistic approach towards his duties; something we are lacking in local Church. Many senior leaders here remain glued to their position ignoring whether they are efficiently doing their jobs or not.
Without being regionally biased, I prefer a pope who should have a message for our times; one who lives in today's world.
Rosaline Costa, Catholic human rights activist, Dhaka
Stepping down was a good decision for the Pope, for the whole Church. Largely because of age factor, Pope Benedict XVI has lost his mental equilibrium and failed to perform his duties properly. But I think there might be more issues behind this. I hope the new pope will have a better attitude and openness to people and should tackle concerning issues like inter-faith relations, child abuse scandals, empowerment of laypeople, particularly women in the Church.
Nirmol Rozario (53), secretary general, Bangladesh Christian Association
I was surprised and confused when I first heard pope had resigned. I went through international press like BBC and CNN reports and realized that the Pope resigned not only because of health but also out of frustrations over widespread of child abuse cases scandals and Vatileaks scandals. It is unfortunate to see the Pope had to resign because he tried but failed to reform in the Church.
I hope the new pope will initiate reformation in the Church, in order to secure the unity of the Church. He needs to ensure sanctity of the clergy and religious and also empower laypeople in the Church. I feel that a sense of lethargy has gripped the Church, because Vatican Council II brought radical changes in the Church but there was no significant evaluation of the council and it was 50 years ago! The Church needs to organize another ecumenical council, to look at the world in 21st century and how to live in it, giving equal voice and participation to clergy, religious and laypeople.
Retired woman, Vienna
No, no, he shouldn't have resigned. What about suffering? No one is prepared to suffer any longer. A pope must never resign. It's a very worldly thing to do. I hope the next pope restores order. The Church is in such a mess.
Girl (16), a member of parish youth group, Vienna
It was a very cool decision. We need a younger man who'll have a bit more swing in him. It would be a good thing if he were good at sports and a lively person. First of all he must deal with the pill problem - and of course let priests marry. Women priests? Why not? But I don't think homosexuals should marry or be allowed to adopt children. I wouldn't like two fathers or two mothers.
Mother of four, Vienna
He must above all get the young back into the Church and that means greater honesty. The young are far more honest than we ever were and they can't
understand why church-going parents insist their children go to Mass while they themselves break the rules by taking the contraceptive pill or getting married more than once. They think that hypocritical.
Olga Cifuentes (56), social worker, Bogotá
I was concerned, but impressed by his decision. I want a pope that is more concerned with defending the poor of the world.
Daniel Ruiz (37), HIV and AIDS educator, Buenos Aires
The first thing that occurred to me was that there was a great pressure for him to resign. This Pope doesn't promote anything, doesn't inspire, doesn't connect. Then, after praying, because I'm a person of faith, my reaction was one of hope, especially of faith in the action of the Holy Spirit. God writes straight with crooked lines, so in the end I think it was an act of the Holy Spirit.
My hope is that [the next pope] will be a pope from Latin America. I want a pope that is radically inclusive, ecumenical, who creates bridges and, always, faith, hope and charity. I want a pope who communicates with his actions, looks and gestures, encyclicals: faith, hope and charity. I want a pope who gives a greater role to women within the Church. I want a pope who is a pastor, but who is aware that he also has ‘other sheep' who are part of the flock and of the extraordinary diversity created by God.
María del Carmen López Méndez (50), industrial engineer, Buenos Aires
I feel optimistic about the pope's resignation, because I feel that the Pope was honest with himself and with all Catholics in recognising that he could no longer
carry on because of the limitations produced by his age.
For me the next pope should be a priest who is forward-looking, who allows the Catholic Church to move with the times, who is really concerned with the most deprived, who allows priests and nuns to marry (because otherwise he will have no priests or nuns to work for him). And not a priest who is too old, so that he has more energy and lasts longer.
Maria Gomes Correa (49), teacher, Recife
I feel sadness about the Pope's resignation. He must have had a lot of faith to make the decision. But I am optimistic about the new pope. He needs to make the flock more united. Praise and reach out more to young people, but praise them.
Tony Annett (42), works at an international financial institution i DC, Recife
I warmed to Pope Benedict quickly, and was blown away by the beauty and insightfulness of his writings. He was able to draw me in, in a way that Pope John II Paul was not. I came to especially appreciate his encyclical on the economy, which took traditional Catholic Social Teaching and added whole new layers of depth and insight. In some respects, this theologian in his 80s showed greater understanding of the problems and pitfalls of the modern global economy than many of the best economic minds. As for his successor, openness, engagement, optimism, and humility are the key qualities I am looking for in the next pope.
Bill Garrity (76), retired, Recife
I think the resignation reflects immensely well on the man himself. He looked at himself, and at the Church, and at the world, and said it was time for a change. I hope the next pope will be more inclusive. I am old and in some ways the Church seems more restrictive these days, especially in this country.
Henry Munjuri (43), Nairobi, Kenya
The Pope made history by resigning, but this leaves us with too many questions. We don't know if we shall ever get the answers. Many of us are asking why and how can a pope resign? Could it be that he has seen another vision... Does he fear a scandal that we don't know at the moment?
Prisca Otieno (37), Nairobi Kenya
The Pope has the right to resign if the feels his health cannot allow him to continue. However, they must quickly elect a new Pope. His successor must address urgently the issue of sexuality in the church. The Catholic Church is in denial over the issue, while incidents abuse of children by priests is real.
An African pope would best address concerns of continent. Well feel sometimes a Western pope does not have real experience about challenges like poverty.
Jules Konza (22), student at Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA)
We are shocked by the Pope's resignation! Pope Benedict is an enormous figure in the Catholic Church. He takes a lot of credit for his work as cardinal at the Vatican, but for him to resign is hard to imagine. We feel as if he has left us alone- has abandoned the church.
I think a new pope will pick up from where Pope Benedict has left. He will need to be a role model.
Paul Hanrahan (40), businessman, Toronto
When I heard the announcement I was actually impressed, he was a true leader and true leaders know when it is time to step aside.
Agnes Kelly (65), retired, Toronto
It made be sad, to think he'd be leaving us. Pope Benedict was a smart man who had the best interests of the faith upper most at all times. I will miss him.
Francesca Corinto (42), primary teacher, Rome
When I heard about Pope Benedict's going it was a terrible sensation. At first I thought he'd died, but once I heard it was a resignation I still felt awful. Very sorry. I still don't understand it. I think the new pope needs to have a good balance between the rational and the spiritual. Maybe Pope John Paul II was a bit on the spiritual side, and Pope Benedict is a bit too much the rational theologian. We need both.
Virgilio Altamura (78), retired, Rome
I think there was some hidden motive behind the resignation that we don't know. What we need from a new pope is unity. The people have been abandoned; we haven't been guided well. We need spiritual guidance - don't ask me how it should be done. But it's the Pope's obligation to intervene in all these abuses and scandals and to squash speculation.
Patrizia Nicolai (39), housewife, near Rome
My first thought about Benedict was that he had a lot of courage: it was a revolutionary decision. He deserved a rest, maybe. Then, in the cold light of day, I
couldn't help thinking about Pope John Paul II - I was so attached to him - and how he served right to the end, through terrible illness. So I don't know. I'm uncertain about Pope Benedict's decision. I want the new pope to be a pope for the family- - that is, the family made up of a mum and a dad. I'm not against gay people, and I do respect the fact that gay people have rights, but when it comes to marriage and children, I believe the traditional family is best. What do I want of a new pope? Someone like Pope John Paul II! With his humility, someone who can talk to the young, who's modern as well as traditional...
Filippo Rifici (53), policeman, Rome
I felt a bit at sea when I heard about the resignation. He's frail, yes, but I imagine there are other reasons behind it. I go to mass every day, but I have a direct relationship with God; I don't necessarily agree with everything the priests say. The new pope will have a difficult job; there needs to be big clean up. John Paul II left a big hole that needs to be filled. Pope Benedict is too rigid. We need a pope who's less severe.
Mr Carlos Albert (34), telemarketer, Melbourne
I am shocked and disappointed that Pope Benedict resigned. He should not have done so because it had not happened for 600 years. Pope John Paul II was fragile nd ill and yet he didn't resign. If Pope Benedict felt he might not be able to remain Pope until he died, he should have thought about that before taking on the position and should not have accepted election.
Ms Neve Burke (23), receptionist, Melbourne
I was quite shocked by Pope Benedict's resignation. Initially, I thought because Pope John Paul II had stayed, perhaps Pope Benedict might have lasted a bit longer, but it's fair enough. I loved Pope John Paul II so much, so I'd like the next pope to be somebody like him. The new pope should try to sort out the whole sexual abuse crisis. I think people lost quite a bit of faith because of it.
Mr Jim Doherty (73), retired, Melbourne
If the Holy Father feels that way, it's fair enough that he should make that decision. He's 85 and I think at 85 he is entitled to please himself. The next pope must be able to do the job well and keep things moving positively. As long as he keeps things going well and the Church continues from what the present Holy Father has done, that is fine with me.
Tim Jones (31), child care worker, Christchurch
My first reaction to the resignation was of surprise. To be honest I never knew a pope could retire, as I presumed they were the pope until they passed away. I was also quite curious, as I knew Pope Benedict wouldn't retire lightly and that, whatever the reason, his decision would be inspired by the Holy Spirit. I find
comfort in knowing he was in a peaceful and happy state of mind when he made the decision, which assures me God was with him.
I'm excited to see what will unfold in the coming days and weeks. I hope to see a strong, courageous and honest pope who helps the world to see how beautiful the Catholic faith is, while effectively dealing with those within the Church who have abused their power. I feel quite confident we will keep the traditions and teachings of the Church and not sway to public and media pressure, especially in issues such as contraception, abortion and euthanasia.
Tony Jenkinson (59), property manager and Julie Jenkinson (54),
Tony: I was shocked to hear of the Pope's resignation. I'm sure that underneath he did not want to resign, but there will be wisdom in his decision. Even non-Catholics have been interested in the Pope's resignation and are concerned that the Church has good leadership. Some have suggested that the Catholic Church will eventually disappear in the Western world, but this won't happen. The Church has overcome obstacles in the past and doesn't change with the times. We need a pope who is a good evangelist and will encourage young people back to the Church.
Julie: When I woke up and heard the news I was shocked. I feel very sad for him. When Pope Benedict was first elected I was surprised at how relieved I was that he had been chosen. The Church needed a father like Pope Benedict - someone who was strong. I felt safe with him as Pope. He has made some good decisions about religious orders and sexual abuse issues. I hope the next pope is similarly orthodox. Pope Benedict is very intelligent but perhaps we need someone who can put things more simply and reach more people.
Abina Pope (60), secondary school director of religious studies, Melbourne
I was quite shocked and even tearful as the news sunk in. Then, walking around the park at 6am I reflected on his decision and saw it as a mechanism for change. Papa Benedict has led the church through difficult times. He has not been a worldly man, he has spent his life of service in academia and that does not really reflect the day to day. I quote him: "I have examined my conscience". He understands the need for the Church to change and offer an olive branch to the liberal Catholics. Perhaps he does not have the "how to" to facilitate the change required and is looking for a younger, more worldly cardinal to be elected to get things changed. Thank you Joseph Ratzinger, for your insight, care and hope when you chose your papal name, Benedict.
Kyaw Min, president of Executive Committee in St. Francis Xavier's parish,
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI news is surprising as it is a rare move and hasn't happened even in the 600 years. But later, we presumed that there may be some challenges behind the resignation despite the Pope Benedict said that he has to resign due to unhealthy condition.
We expect that a new pope will be stand for the Catholic Church especially faith and morals and we prefer the traditional man who is very strict on Church rules for maintaining the Catholic Church.
Dr Leo, former member of National Laity commission, Mandalay
The resignation news shocked me as soon as I heard it. But later I think that there are many challenges such as child sex abuse by the clergy and the Vatileaks.
We expect a young, healthy and energetic new pope and the important thing is that a new pope will be able to face the reality of the challenges in the Church such as clergy child sex abuse and will solve those problems instead of ignoring them. We want the new pope who has personal qualification for solving the great challenges in the Catholic Church rather no matter which continent he comes from.
Tou Chu-seng, Taiwan's former ambassador to the Holy See (2004-2008)
I have a profound impression on the wisdom of Pope Benedict whom he met in several occasions. I could sense that the Pope has a very good understanding on the situation of the Church in China.
Clare Li (36), businesswoman, Zhejiang province
The Pope is the vicar of Christ and many laypeople think what he speaks or does cannot be wrong. But he is a human being and this time he dares to admit his weakness and incapability.
I hope the next pope would not go too far to meet with the fast-changing world. He should be conservative and keep the Church's ground particularly on the issues of abortion and clerical celibacy.
The Catholic Church is a minority but a complicated problem in our country. The Pope's concern would comfort our souls and let us know we are not alone.
Anthony Nguyen Dinh Loc (60), lay leader, Hanoi
We are not surprised to hear the pope's resignation because the Holy Ghost guides the Church through its history.
I really appreciate Pope Benedict XVI who is so brave to step down for his health problem. The Church badly needs a young and active pope who can lead God's people to deal with faith crisis, wars, violence, conflicts, poverty and social injustice in the fast changing world.
I wish the new pope is young and comes from Asia where local Catholics are active and have dialogues with followers of major religions and cultures. The new pope will be expected to improve bilateral relations between the Holy See and China and Vietnam.
Anna Nguyen Thi Nhiem (55), a pro-life activist from Bac Ninh, Hanoi
They say the Pope steps down due to internal conflict in the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI is the last Pope of the Church.
I trust in divine providence and it is understandable that the Pope resigns as Saint Peter's successor due to his old age and health problem.
I hope the new pope is young and enthusiastic to deal with challenges facing the Church.
Julieta B. Fuentes (81), Cagayan de Oro
Personally, the news affected my faith. I am sad. I'm almost as old as him but I still serve our local church here.
Feliberto Calang, Cagayan de Oro
I was surprised but it is welcome news. It is hoped that the next pope will be an advocate for world peace based on justice.
Marlon Antolin, youth leader, Metro Manila
I always look up to him with respect and love especially when he was able to step out of the shadows of his predecessor John Paul II with his writings and directions. I feel sorry for his resignation but do understand his choice.
Dani Villanueva, youth coordinator of the Diocese of Antipolo
I know everything is according to the mysterious plan of God. Mysterious as it may seem, I know that the Lord will give us the gift of understanding. (For now), I'm praying for his good physical, mental and emotional health.
Fabiano Choi Hong-jun, president of the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council of
The Pope read the sign of the times and made a wise decision. He paved a way for a young pope to lead the Church and her flock. He took an appropriate action to cope with the ever-changing new epoch as he is too old to burden it. I hope the next pope fully implement the 50-year-old Church documents of the Second Vatican Council to empower lay Catholics having more roles in the Church. Also, next pope should be younger, at least early 60s, having power and strength to renew the Church in the new era.
Elizabeth Choi Geum-ja, co-representative of the Korean Catholic Women's
Community for a New World
His courageous decision could continue in the whole Church, especially among local diocesan ordinaries. I wish with the wind of change by the Holy Spirit in mind, the next pope would change the Church's conservative attitude toward women and especially facilitate women's participation in the Church's decision-making process.
Interviews by Fr Michael Kelly, UCA News, Mark Brolly, Philip Crispin, Paul Donovan, Peter Kavanagh, Jonathan Luxmoore, Sarah Mac Donald, Francis McDonagh, Fredrick Nzwili, Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Angela Pyke, Sally Read, Romarie Santiago, Michael Sean Winters