What should Americans look for in the next pope?

I admire the courage and humility Pope Benedict shows in stepping down. But looking forward, like any good American, I want to know: how will this change affect us? I took a run at that question for the Guardian, and you can read my answer on their Comment Is Free site today. Short version:

The American church desperately needs some confirmation that the hierarchy "gets it": no more blaming the media for being out to get the church; no more suggesting that the abuse was a matter of too many gay men in the seminaries; no more promoting and protecting compromised leaders. A new pope could stand for accountability.He could remove those hierarchs most implicated in the sex abuse scandal. And he could develop new criteria for bishops, calling for men whose gifts and inclinations are more pastoral than political. The kind of bishops needed in the 21st-century church, especially in the rapidly changing church in America, will be dedicated to repairing divisions, not deepening them.

Read the whole thing here. What are you hoping for?

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is editor-at-large and columnist at Commonweal.

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