Iowa Catholics are celebrating with others of their faith around the world with today’s announcement of the election of a new Pope. Bishop Joseph Charron of the Diocese of Des Moines says like many other Catholics, he’d been keeping close tabs on the selection process in Rome. Charron says he’d checked the news this morning and then went on about his business until someone called and said a new pope had been elected. Charron says he welcomes the selection of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope with “joyful anticipation.” Charron says the selection of Ratzinger likely means there won’t be major changes in the church as Ratzinger’s was a close associate of Pope John Paul. He says, “However, I find it very interesting that he has taken the name of Benedict the 16th. Because, Benedict the 15th was at the time of the modernist controversies and he was known as one who was trying bring together the polarization that was going on, particularily among theologians at that particular time. That could well be a signal of how he sees himself, and how he wants to move into his pontificate.” Charron has met Cardinal Ratzinger about 13 years ago. He says they met at a meeting on medical moral ethics in Dallas. Charron says, “I was taken with his style. He is very clear when he talks. He’s also a very humble man, very simple in his demeanor, soft spoken and very clear about what his position is.” Charron says the events of the past few weeks have been historic for the church. He says during the final days of Pope John Paul the Second and his wake the coverage worldwide has been “tremendous” and he says a big positive for Catholics. Charron says the spotlight will shine bright on the new pope. He says it’s going to be very difficult for the new pope to move out from the light of the coverage of Pope John Paul and into his own light, but he says, “I suspect that he will do that well.”Charron says it’s likely he make get to see the new pope sometime in the next year as part of the same committee in which they first met thirteen years ago. He was asked if he’ll invite the new pontiff to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and visit Iowa. He says he’s not thought yet about inviting the new pope to Des Moines and he says it will be interesting to see if the new pope travels as much as the previous pope. The Des Moines Diocese covers central and southwest Iowa.
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