Change is needed now. Just as we should eliminate the sadly antiquated Electoral College in the election of American presidents, that College of Cardinals should also be subsumed by a new kind of voting system: the people! If we allowed every registered Catholic in the world to vote for who will fill the void in the papacy, think of the wonderful interest and investment that would foster. There could even be a campaign, with candidates giving speeches. I for one would love to hear potential popes telling of their ideology and opinions on things that matter most. And just think how a country like Brazil (with its 33 million Catholics) could be the tipping point in an election (the papal candidates would no doubt make many campaign trips there to woo voters).
One of the first things the new pope must do is deal with abusive priests. There should be no statute of limitations for the Church; it should aggressively and proactively handle these grave matters with clarity and openness. The time for sweeping things under the rug has long passed (tell that to the diocese in LA), and the new pope must be the leader to firmly put his foot down and say “No more!”
Catholics need a pope who will look at the world as it is and not as he thinks it should be. The pope must be open to all constituencies that come under his auspices, even if some of them do not practice what he preaches. He has to find a way to elucidate to the masses why the Catholic Church is their church, not his church. The new pope must understand gays, lesbians, illegal immigrants, the uneducated, the poor, the illiterate, the infirmed, and the destitute, and the pope must ensure that the Church must do everything to be their Church.
There is also the matter of women and their role in the Church. The new pope must blaze new trails to empower them, even contemplating their ability to become priests, and he must consider changing the mandate of celibacy for all religious. The new pope should be an advocate for women’s rights in all countries, realizing how much Jesus loved and valued the women in his life.