April 20, 2005

Area Catholics express relief, concern

Telegram & Gazette


WORCESTER— Catholic reactions to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany being elected pope yesterday were split between relief and concern about the conservative message advocated by the newly named Pope Benedict XVI.

Daisy Parrilla, who spoke in Spanish at the dimly lighted entrance of St. Paul’s Cathedral yesterday, said she was convinced that the choice was well-made.

“I have faith that this pope will be as good as the last one,” Ms. Parrilla said. She described herself as returning to the church after several years.

Some felt, however, that the hard-line nature of the new pope will translate into continued inaction regarding the clergy child molestation cases.

“I am happy there is a new pope because there was a void for a few days without word,” said Elijah Johnson, who described himself as a nonpracticing Catholic. “But I think the issue with the U.S. priests molesting the children should be dealt with. I think he should come down here to deal with the American dioceses.”

Margaret Adekunle, originally from Nigeria, said she also was very pleased that the church selected a new pope. “But I do hope he addresses the church sex scandal,” she said.

Eric Tucker of Charlton said he believes the Catholic Church has a lot of work ahead of it.

“They have a lot of Catholics to win back,” he said.

Bill Peters of Northboro, who was raised a Catholic but stopped practicing because of concerns with church policies, said he was concerned about what the new pope would mean to the direction of the church.

“The new pope is a disaster. It is a throwback to the Middle Ages. It is very disheartening,” he said.

Mr. Peters also believes that most Catholics don’t know the history of the church and its connection to Mussolini’s Italy, Nazi Germany and other unsavory ties.

“I wish the church could listen to the people who can face the truth and also be Catholic. Catholicism says they are about keeping the truth, but they are the last ones that want to face the truth.”

The church has to start talking about women in the clergy, birth control and condoms because their current view is too restrictive and is forcing moderates to leave, Mr. Peters added.

“I am depressed about the whole thing. My moral background was established in the church, so it hurts me to say these things. I want to believe, but these issues have become like pulling a thread on a sweater: It starts to unravel and can’t be put together again.”

Lee Buckley also expressed concern about the new pope. The Boston resident, visiting Worcester with a friend, attended Boston College and says the nuns of the Catholic Church were very influential in her life when she was young. Ms. Buckley said that although church policies can change over time, she is very concerned about how the sexual abuse scandal was handled by the Vatican.

“I am very sad about the America situation with child molestation and how it was treated by the Vatican,” she said. “There is a generation of children that have been lost because of these priests. It throws the whole church into question. The new pope is not going to relate to serious issues.”

Jamie Mandella of Worcester said he became intimately acquainted with the church while at Catholic school.

“The church has to come up to the times. They can only put things off for so long. The Catholic church has got to grow,” Mr. Mandella said.

“I hope he will do like the last one, who was a man of peace and faith,” said Ali Khalaf of Worcester. However, Mr. Khalaf wants the new pope to make an effort to go to Third World countries advocating an end to war. “I think this will be good for everyone and also the economy.”

Posted by kshaw at April 20, 2005 07:38 AM