BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Now that Catholics worldwide have bid farewell to Pope Benedict XVI, the search for a new leader begins. As cardinals arrive at the Vatican, they are taking the top concern of parishioners with them.

Gigi Barnett has more.

Pope Benedict XVI’s time as leader of the Catholic Church has come and gone. This week, the Vatican officially summoned cardinals worldwide to begin selecting a new pope–and the process can be lengthy.

“Nobody would campaign. We’re just getting to know each other better,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. “We’ll listen to each other, from what I understand. I’ve never been part of it. Every cardinal will have the right to speak and every cardinal will be expected to speak.”

Dolan spoke on Face the Nation this weekend. He says before cardinals can identify strong candidates, they need to first determine major issues affecting local churches the most. Many cardinals are turning to parishioners to answer that question.

“We’ll listen. We’ll listen hard. It’s going to be very important to me to listen to cardinals from India [and] cardinals from Latin America,” Dolan said.

Pope Benedict XVI retired last week and Baltimore churchgoers already have an idea of the qualities cardinals should look for–someone with energy to do the job.

“Someone like John Paul, who was very charismatic. He got around the world and talked with a lot of people and did a lot of good things,” said Baltimore Basilica parishioner Tim Pugh.

“The leadership of the church is not just some hierarchy of old men. I think Pope John Paul, when he visited several countries around the world, he played basketball with some kids at different schools,” said parishioner Michael Williams.

While the Vatican says there is no agreed upon time frame to find a front-runner, it hopes its 115 cardinal-electors will be locked in for voting sometime around March 20.

The first official meeting for the College of cardinals is Monday morning.


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