Five young adult Catholics around the nation shared their thoughts on Pope Benedict's resignation with NCR. Below are excerpts from their phone interviews.
1. How do you feel about Pope Benedict resigning?
At the bottom of this blog post, listen to responses from Victoria Radleigh, 25, coordinator of youth ministry and confirmation at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Portage, Mich.; James Dean Esparza, 19, student at Seattle Pacific University in Washington; and April Gutierrez, 32, Young Voices columnist for NCR and campus minister for Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
2. Has the pope affected your life? If so, how? What decisions or aspects of leadership have you been able to connect with?
At the bottom of this blog post, listen to the response from Kate Childs Graham, 28, Young Voices columnist for NCR and speech writer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Mount Rainier, Md.
3. How do you feel about Pope Benedict resigning as opposed to when Pope John Paul II died?
"There's a difference between the resignation of a pope and the death of a pope." - Esparza
"John Paul II -- he was the pope my whole life until Pope Benedict, and he really defined my Catholicism in a way that I don't think I realized until his death ... When John Paul II died, there was hope that the new pope would be a true reformer, but I don't think we got that in Benedict. ... That was the hope then, and that is the hope today." - Graham
"I remember Pope John Paul's death vividly because he had such a public death ... and [he was] the only pope I ever knew. ... In comparing the two, I wonder who [Pope Benedict] is for our church now. ... It's a time of a lot of questions." - Gutierrez
"I felt like Pope John Paul's death was the end to an era. ... He left a long legacy. ... With Pope Benedict, there doesn't seem to be the same kind of legacy, minus the change in the liturgy." - Edwin Ambrosio, 32, a software engineer in Los Angeles
"With Pope Benedict, his resignation was unprecedented so I really don't know what to expect. ... Where will he live, what will his role be, what will he be called, how will he continue to serve the church?" - Radleigh
4. What are some of the big issues facing the church in electing a new pope?
At the bottom of this blog post, listen to responses from Gutierrez and Graham.
5. What qualities do we need in our next pope?
"We need someone who can connect with people where they are at, especially youth." - Radleigh
"The next leader needs to have a strength and passion that we haven't seen in a while." - Esparza
"Transparency is necessary ... and accountability for the wrongs that have been done in the sex abuse scandal. ... A good listener, which seems simple, but with true and just hearing, the church can be transformed." - Graham
"We need someone who is very charismatic ... and willing to be a presence in the Catholic church that goes beyond Rome." - Ambrosio
"We need someone who is concerned with restoring the church's integrity rather than its orthodoxy. ... An active prayer life is crucial." - Gutierrez