A Priest's Perspective

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The black bunting draped across St. Stanislaus Church in Rockford will soon be replaced with gold, the official mourning for Pope John Paul II has ended, and cardinals have started the process of electing the next Holy Father.

"Cardinals took an oath that they will elect someone who will be the best for the church," says Father John Mikula of St. Stanislaus Church in Rockford.

It's the first conclave of the new millennium, a moment in history most won't soon forget. Father John Mikula says parishioners at St. Stanislaus have had one question on their minds.

"Who's going to be the next Holy Father? They're interested; it affects everyone regardless of who it is; it will be someone who will be the best for the good of the church," says Father Mikula.

Father Mikula says the next pontiff will certainly have challenges, guiding the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics into a new era.

"Many want somebody who will be more interested in social problems; African concerns about AIDS and poverty; South America has its own particular needs," say Mikula.

And also, the worldwide moral debates over abortion, birth control and allowing women into the priesthood, but for now all the focus is on the conclave in which the cardinals are expected to be inspired, not just by the world issues on the table, but by the Holy Spirit as well.

"I just hope and pray that the next Holy Father will come close to his predecessor," says Mikula.