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What Indians want the new Pope to be

Last updated on: March 14, 2013 08:23 IST

What Indians want the new Pope to be

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A Ganesh Nadar
From being open minded to having a better understanding of the suffering of the masses to shedding the secrecy over the Vatican's activities... the expectations from the next Pope reflect the times we live in, discovers A Ganesh Nadar.

For the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, the election of a new Pope comes with a hope -- that he will confront the scandals that have dogged the Vatican in a way that allows the world to believe that they are over, that a corner has been turned and there will be no going back.

As 115 Cardinals in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel elected an Argentine cardinal of Italian origin as the 266th leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Rediff.com asked some of the devout in India what they would like to see the next Pope do.

"I would like a Pope who thinks with his heart and mind at the same time," says Malishka Mendonca, the multiple award-winning radio jockey from Mumbai.

"There should be," she added, "intellectual and emotional harmony."

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Image: Images used only for representational purposes
Photographs: Tony Gentille/Reuters
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The otherwise bubbly Malishka had surprisingly sober words about her expectations from the new Pope.

"I would not want him to compromise on the principles of the Church, but I would expect him to live up to the expectations of the 21st century. He cannot be rigid. He has to have an open mind."

"Above all, he has to have a kind heart that can reach out to the youth of the world."

"The youth should feel that here is a Pope who understands us, who will listen to us, who will help us when we need him."

Georgina Umdor, who works at the North Eastern Hill University in Shillong, says she would like an "open-minded Pope who is less rigid, unlike Benedict XVI."

"We mostly do not know what goes on there (in the Vatican), even during the voting (to elect a new Pope). What is the need for such secrecy?" she asked.

"Maybe you should ask Benedict what went on there that he got fed up and decided to leave," she added. "I go to church and pray to God, I don't really relate to the Pope."

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Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Father F Jaikumar, the parish priest of the Idinthakarai Lourde Matha church in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, has been in the news for the past 18 months.

The church is believed to be the nodal point from where the agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant is spearheaded.

"Jesus," Father Jaikumar says, "was always there for the people who were suffering. That is the only quality I want to see in the new Pope. He should understand the suffering of the masses. That's all we need and hope for."

About 370 km away in Nagapattinam district, Father A Michael of the well-known Our Lady of Health Basilica shrine at Velankanni says, "The Pope is appointed by God. He is selected by God to be his representative on Earth. Who am I to think of any qualities in the new Pope?"

"He is the will of God and I accept the will of God. He anoints the Pope and I accept it."

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Image: The statue of Jesus Christ at the dome of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
Photographs: Christian Hartmann/Reuters
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Actress-turned-politician Nagma is a convert to Christianity.

"God has put him (the Pope) in a unique position," she says. "He has the power to influence nations and people. He has a responsibility to this power and position."

"For him, it should be God above all. The Bible should be his guiding book. The Bible is timeless. Do not expect change because it is the 21st century. I neither want a ritualistic Pope nor one who says 'Fear God.' His words should be to love God. Love one and all."

"Though this is an earthly position, his eyes should always be heaven-ward. He has to follow God's word. He can make a new generation. He can change and rectify all that is wrong with the world today. God will help him do the right thing."

"Service to the people is service to God. He should serve the people in the name of God."

"People look up to the Pope," feels Nagma. "He should live up to the people's expectations. Always follow God's principle and never be swayed by the dictates of time."

"The last Pope said that ill-health forced him to quit, but we now hear that he was upset with elements who were acting against what is right as pointed out in the Bible."

"We will love the Pope," she says, "if he follows the Bible in all matters."


Image: Devout Catholics await white smoke to rise from the Sistine Chapel's chimney.
Photographs: Eric Gaillard/Reuters
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