Pilgrims speak out at the home of St.Peter's, the first Pope

'Next pontiff should focus more on soul, allow priests to marry'

07 March, 17:33

Mount of Beatitudes, Lake Tiberias Mount of Beatitudes, Lake Tiberias

(ANSAmed) - Lake Tiberias (Israel), March 7 - The multinational pilgrims visiting what the Christian Gospels say was the home of Saint Peter, history's first pope, at the Capernaum archeological site on the northern shore of Lake Tiberias, have a range of opinions about what the next pontiff should focus on.

Lake Tiberias, otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee, is where Jesus allegedly recruited several of his apostles, and where he performed his walking on the water miracle.

"It's time we had an African pope. Someone who can speak to the black continent and understand its massive problems", commented a married South African couple. While they did not name their preferred candidate, they called on the next pontiff to allow priests to marry "so they can have someone to support them: a woman at their side, who can sustain them in their ministry".

An Orthodox French-speaking Romanian said he is in favor of a European pope, but went on to add that "any one of them is fine with me, as long as he can face up to the problems and protect the Christian faith. The church must answer to a lot of questions: it's a tough job". A New York couple said they wanted an American pope who "would focus on North and South America". They did not hesitate to name New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is president of the US Episcopal conference, as their favorite candidate. "I would like him to be Italian, or at least European", said one Italian pilgrim. "Also, the new pope must push the church to focus on souls more than politics. Less structure, and more presence on the ground, here with the people". She was diplomatic on Benedict's resignation: "A pope is not supposed to quit, but with all the difficulties ahead and at his age, he did the right thing".

Father Francisco from southern Spain approved of Ratzinger's decision: "I saw humility and humanity in him. The next pope should focus on the authenticity of the church, the humanity of Christ and the salvation of all men".

"The Holy Spirit will choose the new pope", commented Sister Maria Colomba, an Iraqi from Mosul.