MERCED -- Merced's Roman Catholics are keeping a close eye on the process to select a new pope, and many think it may take a few days before one is chosen.
Msgr. Pat McCormick of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Merced expects cardinals in Rome to pick a new pope by Friday or Saturday. He said at this point there isn't a real front-runner for the papacy and it could take 40, 60 or even 90 votes from the 115 cardinals for Pope Benedict XVI's successor to be named.
"I would like to see someone who stands up for the teachings of the church," McCormick said, "and becomes an example for others, who can govern the church wisely and know the importance of administration. We'll just have to wait and see."
Rick Marshall, a member of St. Patrick's Pastoral Council, said he would prefer a conservative over a liberal, and someone the people will follow.
"I'm looking for someone who keeps the faith the way it should be," Marshall said.
Mert Beuerman, a Pastoral Council member, said there are five different factions among the cardinals: Italians, Europeans, the United States, conservatives and liberals.
"I think it will be a long conclave," Beuerman said. "The selection of the pope should be influenced by the Holy Spirit; all the guys have to work out their secular preferences. It should be whoever God wants, if they listen to that."
Jim Rosa of Merced said the papal succession process may take a few days. He would like to see a younger man, maybe 55 to 64 years old, become pope. Benedict, 85, announced his retirement in mid-February because of age and health issues.
"The growth is coming from Africa and South America," Rosa said. "It would be an eye-opener to show the diversity and encompassing nature of the church."
Rosa said the cardinal from Canada, Marc Ouellet, and Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley from Boston would make good leaders. He hopes the new pope will come from a continent other than Europe. If the new pope were from America, it could help stabilize falling church attendance in the United States.
The Rev. Frank Piro of Atwater, who retired from the priesthood in 2000 after 50 years in the Bay Area, believes the papal selection process will take several days at least.
Piro said he is looking for somebody who can engage the modern world and make the church important in people's lives.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.