The selection of a new pope by the College of Cardinals is said to be guided by the Holy Spirit. That is not to say it is without political ramifications. Some liberals in the church are hoping for radical changes under the next pope, while conservatives would like to see the legacy of Pope John Paul II preserved. VOA Producer Zulima Palacio talked with some people in Washington DC about their views of a new pope.
In Washington DC this is called the National Cathedral. It actually is Episcopalian Protestant, but it also is one of the main points of interest for tourism in the nation's capital. People from all over the country and the world come to visit, regardless of their religious beliefs. Those we talked with had a variety of opinions on what a new pope could change or preserve for the Catholic Church.
"My personal believe is that the priesthood is a male role. But I do believe that women should be able to have a more prominent role in the Catholic Church," says one man.
"I'd like to see a new pope who would allow free abortion, allow priests to be married, to allow gay people free access to the church," says Peter.
These teenagers differ sharply.
"I actually would not like the pope to change anything. I think Pope John Paul did an amazing job of keeping the traditions of the Catholic Church alive. I think that the tradition is that women are not meant to be priest in the Catholic Church. And I want them to continue the traditions,” says one of them.
"I am a feminist and I feel that the Catholic Church should accept women to be priests and I think that's the biggest change I like to see in the Church, because I don't see anything wrong with it," says the another inthe group.
Another teenager says, "I think that the number of priest is really declining and is a significant problem in the Catholic Church and I don't see an issue with women being priests. I think their policies are outdated that the role of women changed and so the Church should accept that and their position should change too."
Other issues such as poverty, birth control and interfaith dialogue are on some people's minds.
"I think that John Paul II did an incredibly good job with peace in the world. I think the Catholic Church should be more open with all the birth control things for women," says one woman.
"I think the previous pope was very concerned about poverty and I think his failure to understand the connection between birth control and family size and poverty just amazed me," says Peter.
"I feel that the Catholic Church needs to really address the fact about priests getting married. I think that would significantly help the image of the church. I believe that's very detrimental to some of the kind of problems that they had," says Terry.
One man says, "I would like to see a continuation actually of what he tried to do, which is opening the dialogue with all the other religions in the world, which I think was his real legacy."
The conclave to choose a new pope has been set for April 18.