Apr 062005
Authors: Jake Blumberg

"Without the Holy Father, we are like orphans; a fatherless family," said Father Don Willette, pastor for CSU's campus ministry Blessed John XXIII.

Pope John Paul II's death on Saturday has left some Fort Collin's Catholics searching for direction in their faith and wondering what path the Catholic Church will take under the next pope.

Jeanette Coleman, an assistant to Pastor Roger Lascelle at Saint Joseph's Catholic Church, located on 127 N. Howes St., believes the pope's successor will play a large and important role in the future of the Catholic Church.

"Each individual pope makes a huge difference in the church," Coleman said. "The pope is definitely not a figurehead position. He leads the church, and the direction of the church really depends on which way the pope goes."

Coleman is not worried about the choice of the future pope because Catholics believe the pope is chosen through God's will.

"Catholic's believe the Holy Spirit chooses the pope through the Cardinals; they channel the Holy Spirit in their decision," Coleman said. "The new pope will be chosen through God's will."

The pope, whose papacy spanned 26 years, has been the only pope many younger Catholics have known in their lives, and his death has left some unsure of the next step for the church.

Freshman theatre major Mary Wilson is looking forward to the experience of a new leader for the church and is curious if the new leader will follow in the footsteps of John Paul II.

"Pope John Paul has been the pope for my entire lifetime. I have never known a new leader of the church, so I am very curious," Wilson said. "It will be interesting to see what a change in pope means. I am really interested to see what direction he will take the church."

Some members of the church are unsure of the impact the new pope will have on the religion as a whole. Jenna Jantsch, a freshman business major, does not believe the religion itself will be affected by the pope's successor.

"Pope John Paul did so much in the big picture, inside the church and beyond it, yet the faith itself was mostly unchanged," Jantsch said. "The Catholic faith is not one that can really be changed – it is so rooted in tradition. The future pope will play a large role in the future, but I think it will be mostly as a political leader and leader in general."

The next pope must take steps to continually revitalize the faith and continue in John Paul II's footsteps, Wilson said.

"The next pope must reach out to young people," Wilson said. "We are the future of the world and the faith, so it is very important for the pope to continue to reach out like the Pope (John Paul II) did. The pope was a revolutionary when it came to relating to youth, Catholics and non-Catholics, and the next pope has to continue to do that."

Leadership, not reforms in the church, should be the key focus for the future pope, Jantsch added.

"The pope, above all, is a leader, and the next pope must continue to lead not just the church, but the world," Jantsch said. "The next pope will be responsible for following one of the greatest leaders of our time. Hopefully he can do it."

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