Houston Catholics share hopes for next pope who will replace Pope Benedict XVI

February 28, 2013 4:50:18 PM PST
What kind of successor will be chosen to replace the resigned Pope Benedict XVI? The leader of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, is in Rome right now and will take part in that decision, and he believes the growing diversity of the Catholic Church could play a major role.

Cardinal DiNardo addressed the growing diversity to the entire Catholic Church in Rome, but also touched specifically on what's changing here in the Houston area, and a lot of his parishioners were listening.

At Immaculate Conception Church in Houston's East End, Maria Rodriguez and her co-workers say praying for the Pope is their main focus.

"We just pray that it will be the right pope to continue God's work," Rodriguez said.

But just who will be the next pope? The Catholic Church's growth in Latin America and Africa have led some to speculate that perhaps the next pope will hail from one of those continents. It's a change Cardinal DiNardo acknowledged from Rome on Thursday.

"In my own part of the country, in the southwest of the United States, we have an incredible growth in the Catholic population there, a lot of that is for reasons from immigration," he said.

Immaculate Conception reflects that change. When Rodriguez first joined the parish 30 years ago, members were mostly Italian. Today, it is 98 percent Latino.

Church member Veronica Ramirez-Espinoza says a Latino pope would be exciting.

"If it's going to be a Latin American pope? I'm going to feel like my own roots, because of Latin America people," Ramirez-Espinoza said.

The women say the bigger focus for them isn't so much the ethnicity of the next pope, but praying for someone who will unite the church. It's a message Cardinal DiNardo clearly articulated.

"So I think the Catholics in the United States, whatever they may be, wherever they're from, they look for is someone who is going to be a principal of unity for the church," he said.

And whomever the cardinals choose, members of the Immaculate Conception parish say they will be waiting.

"I think it's continuing to grow our faith as a Catholic," Ramirez-Espinoza said.

Parishioners say they will continue to pray throughout the decision process. Some of the women said they would like to see Cardinal DiNardo become the next pope, but they will follow whoever is chosen.

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