This month, hundreds of Catholic cardinals are assembling at the Vatican to select among their number the successor to Pope Benedict XVI.
Who the next pope will be is anybody’s guess. However, the 1 billion Catholics around the world will be praying that the next pope will be holy, apostolic, Eucharistic-oriented, outgoing, ecclesiastical, ecumenical and open to the Holy Spirit to lead the church in the 21st century in ways that will please God and accomplish the works of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are hopeful that the new pope will take on his papacy with a desire to reach out to all religions and all members of the Catholic faithful, and to his bishops, cardinals and priests in such a way that the building-up of Christ’s Church will be pursuing acts of kindness, compassion, integrity, ethics and sanctity-of-life issues on a daily basis.
We know that God’s Holy Spirit will guide the cardinals to select a most pastoral man with visions of the Catholic Church reaching out in word and sacrament to renew the church from the inside out. God’s Holy Spirit will actively engage those cardinals to be far-sighted stewards of God’s chosen Vicar of Christ on Earth. There will be much joy when the white smoke is seen by thousands within St. Peter’s Square and among millions when announced by news media at that time of election of the next pope.
We are grateful to Pope Benedict XVI’s work the past eight years, and we wish him much holiness as he writes books and spends time with the Lord in prayer, praying for the renewal of the Catholic Church from all those baptized to the priesthood and kingdom of God’s holy people.
May our next Holy Father be a man of love and compassion and mercy and goodness for all who see Jesus in his leadership role as the head of the earthly souls united to Christ by the Eucharist and all the sacraments of the Catholic Church, and preaching the Gospel of Jesus with vigor, zeal and fervor. He should be a strong figure of Christian unity for decades to come.
May the Holy Spirit touch his heart and mind and soul to be the holy Shepherd leading us to Jesus. Amen!
The Rev. Michael Lubinsky
(The writer is parochial vicar at St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church in Augusta.)