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With faithful, Bishop Kicanas waits for selection of new pope
Since the recent resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church around the world and in Yuma has relied on the bishops to maintain the day-to-day functions in their respective diocese.
“It came as quite a shock, I'm sure, to everyone when the Holy Father decided to resign,” Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, bishop of the Tucson Diocese that includes Yuma, told the Yuma Sun Saturday during a visit to St. John Neumann Parish in the Foothills.
“The church carries on because each bishop is responsible for his own diocese.”
Last month, the 85-year-old pope announced he was resigning due to ill health. Previously, a pope had not resigned from the papacy in over 600 years. He left office on Feb. 28, taking the title of “pope emeritus.''
“His service over 8 years was untiring,” Kicanas said. “He became pope as an older man, and you could see the weight of the office affecting him over time. I was with him not too long ago in Cuba, and I could see how really tired he was, and how weary he was – but still pushing himself to try and carry on the work that was his responsibility. I think he just came to the realization that, for the good of the church, it would be better for him to resign.”
Catholics around the world “are all praying for the Holy Father Benedict,” Kicanas added. “We hope he will continue to contribute in some way to the life of the church.”
It is now up to the College of Cardinals at the Vatican to choose Benedict XVI's successor in the coming weeks and months.
“We await the selection by the cardinals of the new pope, which hopefully will happen before Easter,” Kicanas said. “Everyone around the world in every country right now is waiting for that puff of white smoke that will be the sign that the cardinals have reached an agreement.”
There are a number of cardinals who may be selected for the papacy, which may drag out the process, Kicanas said.
“There will probably be several rounds of black smoke indicating that the cardinals have yet to determine who the new pope is. Any cardinal, in fact any man, can be elected pope ... although I would suspect 99.9 percent of the possibility is that it will be one of the current cardinals.”
Kicanas eagerly awaits the selection, and noted the new pope will bring a new and unique style and flair to the office.
“Every pope is different, every person is different. People's personalities are different. Pope John Paul (II) was a tremendous extrovert, very comfortable in crowds, very engaging. He was a big man and very strong appearing.”
Pope Benedict XVI “was very different,” Kicanas continued. “He was a very small man and a scholar, someone who is a deep thinker (and) very much an introvert – very shy. He is very reserved, very quiet.”
Whoever becomes the new pope will need to formulate a plan to deal with the major issues facing the church including birth control, abortion, child abuse amongst clergymen, and gay marriage.
“I am sure our Holy Father will want to bring the church into a response to the challenges of the world as best he can,” Kicanas said.
“Sometimes people think these are the worst of times. But when looking back at history, they realize there have been some very challenging times for the church. Times when people wondered whether the church was going to survive. But the church has sustained and will continue to sustain. I am sure the new pope will bring his own mark to the church, and draw upon the bishops around the world to assist him.”
For now, Kicanas patiently awaits the new pope, whoever that may be.
“I am sure it will be someone who will bring a new personality to the role of the pope and hopefully will be a deeply prayerful person,” he said, noting that just like the pope emeritus, the new pope will “need a lot of prayers.”
Kicanas also hopes the new pope will be “a man who can relate well with people, who understands the global nature of the church, who is attentive to the issues of the time, and can be articulate in addressing those issues.”
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.