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Q: Do you think the next pope should come from Latin America or Africa, rather than Europe or North America?

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This is not a blue state/red state issue like a presidential election. Catholics believe that there is divine intervention by the Holy Spirit, and the pope who is chosen is the one God has selected. So to ask, "What country should the next pope come from?" is a question only God can answer. I believe that this issue would be irrelevant to him, since God does not see the divisions we have set up. We are all his children.

Lynne M. Brown, Elma

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I believe the cardinals should and will be open to papal candidates from Latin America and Africa, rather than just Europe or North America. The very meaning of the word "Catholic" is "universal." To be a truly universal church, candidates from all over the world should be considered.

Martin F. Brownsey, West Seneca

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The next pope should be the one best qualified to serve, and in doing so, lead, the Catholic community.

Troy P. Stover, Amherst

While certain factions of society would feel justifiably proud of having a native son elected as pope, I don't think it would matter where he is from. We could be sure that anyone -- European, American, Asian, African or Latino -- would carry out his duties to the very best of his ability, and would have no reflection on his national origin.

Carson L. Cross, Cheektowaga

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Yes. Latin America and Africa have the fastest-growing populations in the world. It is much more important that the new pope be progressive and inclusive. The Catholic Church is the only religion that insists that clergy must be celibate and single. Baptists and Catholics are the only Christian denominations that refuse to ordain women. These are far more important issues as we begin a new century.

Robert Peterson, Hamburg

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No, I would not like the next pope to be selected based on nationality, ethnic background, race or place of residence. I pray that the cardinals make a choice that is best for the Church and its people without regard to political or other unimportant considerations.

Jack Gorman, Grand Island

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The cardinals of the Catholic Church should put aside all politically correct agenda and let the reign of Pope John Paul II guide them. The correct geographical location of the next pope should be that location where the most qualified man resides. The only measurement to be used in selection must be: "Is this the man God would select to lead his Church?"

John-Paul Stiglmeier, Buffalo

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Asking readers where the next pope should come from conveys a lack of understanding of the spiritual nature of the Church. While regional considerations and philosophical preferences may exist, I believe the Holy Spirit will guide the cardinals in the selection of the next pope, just as occurred with the election of John Paul II -- an outcome no one expected.

Paul M. Chlebowski, Hamburg

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To think color would be a matter of reason for electing a new pope is beyond understanding. How could any religion consider a new leader because of his color and not his heartfelt interest in the religion? Who cares where he comes from or what color he is? The new pope must fit the needs and wants of the people he will be leading toward eternity and God. Let him be a man of religious value and the "right stuff" to empower his followers to a holy world of faithful hearts and minds.

Max A. Gabriel, Orchard Park

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It really isn't important what continent the new pope is from. What is important is that he re-examine the priorities of the Church, particularly in regard to caring for the poor. The pope's funeral revealed a stark contrast between the pope's poverty of spirit as reflected in his plain wooden casket and his directive that he be buried under the ground, not in a mausoleum, and the opulence of the cardinals' vestments and the church furnishings. If the Church is going to reclaim its many disaffected Catholics, it will have to reject this opulence.

Kenneth J. Rummenie, Buffalo