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BOSTON — Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Boston followed the election of Pope Benedict XVI closely through television and Internet coverage on April 19, and most said they are hopeful about his papacy and the future of the Catholic Church.
Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley expressed joy and gratitude to God for the election of Pope Benedict, said an archdiocesan statement on April 19.
"Our Holy Father was a close collaborator with Pope John Paul II in the central administration of the Church. Pope Benedict XVI was also the residential bishop of the archdiocese of Munich, a position of great pastoral responsibility, and has considerable academic credentials," said the archbishop. "All of these experiences and achievements put our Holy Father in good stead as he begins his ministry as Shepherd of the Universal Church."
Father John A. Farren, OP, rector at St. John Seminary, said he had the “privilege” of working with former Cardinal Ratzinger during the summer of 1990 when he served on the Holy See Redaction Committee for the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Father Farren called Pope Benedict, who oversaw the committee, gentle and humble, adding that he is “a man of extraordinary intellect and brilliance.”
"He would be able to quote the fathers of the Church, quote modern theologians at length to make tremendously incisive comments and judgements about the issues presented, to the point that I began keeping a notebook. It was like having a doctrinal seminar," he said.
"His election is a great gift to the Church, and he is someone who will very articulately, clearly be able to explain the teachings of the Church in a way that people can understand, appreciate and see the wisdom of," he added.
Many of the Catholics streaming out of St. Anthony Shrine in Boston and heading to work on the morning of April 20 said they did not know much about the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and were looking forward to learning more about him.
Susan Milano from Hyannis said she wants to give the pope the opportunity to show what he will do, and she encouraged others to do the same. Milano specifically mentioned that she had heard media reports that focused on Pope Benedict being enrolled in Hitler Youth when he was a teenager and that enrollment was compulsory. The pope later defected from the German army and was never a member of the Nazi party. Living under the Nazi Empire would likely make him sensitive to issues like anti-Semitism, she said.
Milano added that she hopes Pope Benedict will make a gesture about the sexual abuse scandal that would show the Church has a zero tolerance policy.
Deacon Francisco Guerrios from Holy Family in Dorchester said he hopes the new pope will lead the Church to the “new frontier.” He said many Catholics are expecting new changes and more lay participation in the Church. Guerrios said he supports a married priesthood.
Zoila Sanchez said she is very happy to hear the news about the election of Pope Benedict but acknowledged that those looking for change in the Church would likely be disappointed. The pope worked closely with Pope John Paul II and will take the “same step” forward, said Sanchez who lives in Dorchester.
Paul Hartwell of Stoneham said Pope Benedict was the consistent choice for the Church because he will extend the style and philosophy of Pope John Paul.
Alix Aragon said the new pope looks like a good, strong leader who will be able to take on important issues to the Church and fight “everyday wars.”