What kind of an impact will a new Pope have on the 242,000 Catholics here in Central PA? Is the time right for a Pope from Africa, Asia or Latin America?
Bishop Joseph McFadden of the Dioceses of Harrisburg says the change is another moment in history. "It's another era, another moment in the church. The idea of a new Pope is not something new in the church."
But even though the idea of a new Pope isn't new, a Non-European Pope would be.
"Whoever is selected, I think the Catholic faith will accept as the inspiriation of the Holy Spirit to lead the church this time." McFadden said.
Some people we talked to said they're ready for an American Pope. "I think the world is ready for a United States Pope, an American Pope."
There has never been one and the odds of that happening are very slim.
Bishop McFadden has met the Pope several times including last year in Rome. "I'm happy for him. I'm thankful to Almighty God that we had such a Pope to follow, the great Pope John Paul the Second.
Bishop McFadden may have also met the future Pope. "The candidate that goes in as a favorite usually comes out as a Cardinal."
The Bishop did mention a Cardinal from South America. "He is a very talented man, he speaks a number of languages and he certainly would have the respect of the Cardinals."
The church is about faith, but it is also about politics. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference spends about $1 million each year on lobbying. "The Catholic Church in South Eastern Pennsylvania is the largest provider of social services in the state. When the laws are being written it's important that we look at the legislation to make sure what is being proposed isn't contrary to what we believe. So we deliver these social services."
Normally there is a 15 day mourning period before the conclave begins to select a new Pope, but this time the process could begin this Friday.
One hundred and fifteen Cardinals of the Church will make the decision as to who will be the next Pope. In the decision process, age does matter, only Cardinals age 80 and under are allowed to participate. Pope Benedict was 78 when he became pontiff.