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March 13th, 2013
09:28 AM ET

Could ideal pope candidate be someone 'outside the box'? Msgr. Hilgartner weighs in

As faithful Catholics wait for word from 115 cardinals in Rome to elect a new pope, the church continues to face issues of sexual abuse outside of conclave.

A new development this morning; the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles struck a deal to settle sex abuse lawsuits involving a defrocked priest who's now in prison. They agreed to pay nearly $10 million dollars to four different victims. The suits claim Cardinal Roger Mahony knew of the particular priest's behavior and allowed him to continue in his position. Right now, Cardinal Mahony is in Rome taking part in the conclave to elect the new pope.

Monsignor Richard Hilgartner, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat on Divine Worship, offers his thoughts on the development and day two of conclave. The cardinals are barred from communicating with the world and have “media silence” during conclave, “so it's possible that they have no idea that this happened,” Monsignor Hilgartner says. It depends on when the L.A. Archdiocese reached their decision and if they were able to notify Cardinal Mahoney before the start of conclave.

Also this morning, a third ballot among the cardinals in conclave proved inconclusive. Now that the smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney has emerged black, the speculation continues as to whether the next vote will be successful.

“There are lots of scenarios,” Hilgartner says. “I think that the longer it goes, the more outside the box they'll be thinking.” Depending on the conversations within the chapel doors, “it might be somebody that's not even been on a list.”

February 28th, 2013
12:16 PM ET

Father Edward Beck on why he believes the world's second youngest cardinal could be the next pope

On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI began facing his final hours of as the sitting religious leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. Earlier that morning Pope Benedict XVI met with more than 100 cardinals who must now choose his replacement. His decision to stand down - the first pope to do so in six centuries - has thrown the Roman Catholic Church into a whirl of activity. This morning, the CNN contributor Father Edward Beck joins “Starting Point” to talk about his resignation.

Regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s successor, Beck says, “there's a lot of talk that the Catholic Church is in the developing world, in Africa and Asia, so I want to go out a limb and I want to throw someone out from the developing nation of the Philippines, Cardinal Tagle.”

In November of last year at age 55, Tagle became the world's second youngest cardinal. Beck says Tagle also interesting because "he is so humble.”

“When he was bishop in… the Philippines, he would ride his bicycle. He would encounter all the people on the streets. He would invite the poor in his residence to eat,” Father Beck says.

Filed under: Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Religion
February 28th, 2013
11:50 AM ET

Sr. Simone Campbell: Pope’s legacy to focus on his teachings and his 'courageous' decision to resign

On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI pledged an "unconditional obedience" and respect to whoever takes up the reins after his dramatic resignation. During his final hours as pope he is expected to depart the Courtyard of San Damaso in his chopper and land in Castel Gandolfo – his temporary retirement home. Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to resign in six centuries. At 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), the pope will officially be in retirement. This morning Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK joins "Starting Point" to discuss the pope’s resignation becoming effective today.

Pope Benedict XVI’s legacy is defined by two significant and historic factors, Campbell says. The first is “his amazing teaching with regards to the economic challenges of our globalized world and really challenging the first world to be mindful of justice for everyone.” The second revolves around the “fact that he acknowledged his limitations in aging and has resigned. I think it was a very courageous act on his part and I think that boldness hopefully will help open up some new opportunities in the church.”

Campbell, who also serves as a member of the Sisters of Social Service, says the likelihood that the new pope will push hard to change the role for women within the Catholic Church is “probably slim to none.” She however remains hopeful adding “as we embrace reality of our modern world, women are moving more into roles of leadership and, quite frankly, the church needs us there more than they ever have. And so I think maybe it's going to happen just by doing. Often law follows practice, not leads practice.”

Filed under: Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Religion
February 27th, 2013
11:15 AM ET

VIDEO: Clock ticks down on Pope Benedict XVI's papacy – John Allen on selecting the next pope

CNN sr. Vatican analyst John Allen on the tone of Pope Benedict XVI's final public appearance and picking the next pope.

Filed under: Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican
February 12th, 2013
10:39 AM ET

Cardinal Wuerl: Next pope will have to focus on the Catholic message in a way that catches people's attention

New information this morning about why Pope Benedict XVI decided to resign. At a news conference earlier, the Vatican said the Pope doesn't feel he has the strength to continue, and there's now already speculation over just who's going to replace him.

There's already a list of front runners as potential options. One of the men on the list is His Eminence, Cardinal Donald Wuerl. He's the archbishop of Washington, and he's a voting member of the impending conclave which will elect a new Pope. He talks with Soledad on "Starting Point" about the selection of a new pope.

Wuerl responds to chatter that he could be selected as the next pope.

"I think at this point, we're talking about fantasy more than reality," he says. "The future is going to be directed to who will be a Pope who will continue to focus on the spiritual mission of the church. That's at the heart of who we are, and Pope Benedict has done that, I think, with great success, to try to keep the focus on the gospel, the mission of the gospel."

Wuerl says the key for the next pope will be engagement.

"I think where we are and where the church always is, is to take the received teaching. This is what Jesus said to us, and that's what we keep repeating, but we have to find ways of saying it so we catch the attention of people today. I deal with an awful lot of young people, young adults, and they just don't know the message. I think the next Pope is going to have to focus on this as what we believe...This is the message, love one another, be good to one another, build a world of peace and justice and kindness, but to say it in a way that we catch people's attention and their hearts."

See an extended cut of the interview in the video above.

Filed under: Pope Benedict XVI
February 11th, 2013
12:44 PM ET

Father Martin: Pope Benedict XVI resignation 'selfless,' 'noble'

Father James Martin with "America" Magazine on Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation.

Filed under: Pope Benedict XVI
February 11th, 2013
12:32 PM ET

Archbishop: Wenski: Rigors of serving as pope, running a universal church is indeed very pressing

Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski on Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation announcement.

Filed under: Pope Benedict XVI
February 11th, 2013
12:27 PM ET

Next steps in choosing Pope Benedict XVI's successor – CNN Belief Blog's Eric Marrapodi explains

CNN Belief Blog editor Eric Marrapodi on the next steps in choosing a replacement for Pope Benedict XVI.

Filed under: Pope Benedict XVI
February 11th, 2013
11:13 AM ET

Director Alex Gibney: Sex abuse scandal defines Benedict's papacy

Alex Gibney, director of "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" on Pope Benedict XVI's resignation.

Filed under: Pope Benedict XVI