As the news sets in that Pope Benedict XVI will retire at the end of the month, Catholics in Wisconsin are reflecting on what qualities they want in the church's next leader. Many say they want the next pope to help strengthen the faith around the world.
In recent years, churches have had a hard time attracting and keeping younger people. Twenty-one year-old Arielle Pursinski says she hopes the next pope will re-energize younger Catholics. "The youth is really searching for the strong, traditional Catholic identity. Getting into the Catholic roots and going back to that is really what's going to bring the youth back to the Catholic Church."
Pursinski says she also hopes the next pope sticks to the church's strong opposition to abortion.
Father James Kurzynski leads the Roncalli Newman Catholic Center in La Crosse. He says the next pope will need to establish Catholicism's place in a rapidly changing world among other rising religions. "I can see the need for somebody who can try to reach out to the growing secularization of Europe and the United States and try to understand how can we revitalize the faith in countries where the faith is dying."
Ninety-year old Larry Connolly of La Crosse has lived through eight popes. He says he wants the next pope to be more forward looking. But Connolly says he ultimately trusts the decision that the Catholic cardinals will make. "The Catholic Church will last forever. So, we'll survive."
According to the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, there are about 1.6 million Catholics in the state.