East Texas Catholics pray for new pontiff's election



As Catholic cardinals from around the world are preparing to elect the man who will be the next pope, the faithful in Tyler are praying for their decision and that the Holy Spirit will guide them.

"Don't change direction of a boat that's on the right course," said Dutch Schorr, member of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler, when asked if there were anything he hoped the new pope would address.

Although Pope Benedict XVI's move to resign has little precedent — a pope hadn't resigned in the past 600 years — the idea that the teachings of the church shouldn't be changed is something that resonates with many Tyler Catholics.

Church member Beverly Ohren remembers the changes in church teaching that occurred in the 1960s, including changing from a Mass that was read strictly in Latin.

"A lot of people left the church," she said.

Despite the desire to stick to tradition, church members also hope the new pope will have the energy required to lead the church in a fast-paced age.

"I think in the times that we have now, we need an energetic pope," Schorr said. "Certainly, I hope I'm as active as he (Benedict) is at 85, but I do think he's slowed down quite a bit."

Fr. Anthony McLaughlin, rector of the Cathedral, said the conclave isn't expected to meet to choose the new pope until at least Monday. Whoever they choose will have serious expectations placed upon him.

"In the year 2013 — it's always been a very serious business to be pope, but now, more than ever is it so serious, in 24/7 media," McLaughlin said. "The world expects the pope to be all bells and whistles, to be lights, camera, action. So that's a great responsibility for him. I hope the pope will continue to teach the truth of the faith with even greater clarity."

Though the stakes are high, Catholics in Tyler have one thing they always have: faith.

"We know Christ does not abandon the church," McLaughlin said.


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