Catholics in Idaho celebrate Ash Wednesday today. It marks the beginning of the six-week Lenten season, and this year, it comes two days after the pope's surprise announcement that he's retiring.
Pope Benedict XVI will renounce his duties on February 28, at the age of 85.
Boise Catholic Connie Stauts says Benedict’s decision to resign showed humility. Outside the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist Wednesday morning, she says she hopes the next church leader will be younger.
“We need somebody who is quick to learn things and respond," Stauts says. "And really look at what Catholics are today; we’re not what they were 50 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago.”
Stauts hopes the next leader will be able to deal with continued challenges for the church – challenges like the international sex abuse scandal and declining followers in Europe.
Tom Dominick also attended mass at St. John’s Wednesday morning, but he wouldn't speculate on who should be the next leader of the church. Dominick says he’ll leave that to God.
“We may be surprised by who gets picked, because again, we’re not really in control of the situation," says Dominick. "And if people listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit during the process, then I think they’ll choose a wise pope. ”
Dominick doesn’t have an opinion over whether the next pope should be more liberal or conservative. But he hopes the next Bishop of Rome will be able to handle the challenges of the 21st century.
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio