By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Mar 7, 2013

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The cardinals are now gathering at the Vatican to prepare for the conclave, as 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide await their decision on who they will vote as their new leader.

Monsignor Flor Arcamo of the Archdiocese of San Francisco hopes that a fellow Filipino, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, considered a contender, will be elected pope.

He noted that Cardinal Tagle had worked for Pope Benedict in the past. He said, “They are very close.”

But as the world waits for the smoke to turn white from the Sistine Chapel, signaling that new pope has been chosen, Filipino American Catholics weigh in on their ideal new pope.

A recent CBS/New York Times poll cited that 66 percent of respondents said they would prefer the next pope to be younger with new ideas, rather than older with more experience. Majority of the respondents also said they want the new pope to change to more liberal teachings, while a smaller group said they would like the church to be even more conservative. The poll was conducted among 580 Catholic adults in February.

Twenty-three-year old Jerry Alcones said the next pope should lead the church to a more modern direction, on issues like birth control, ordaining women, married men as priests and same-sex marriage.

He said the new pope should especially listen to the voice of the youth. Alcones said, “We are the new generation, after all.”

Eden Bonin believes the new pope should be younger and should reach out to the younger generation. She said, “But he cannot compromise on traditional Catholic beliefs.”

Monsignor Arcamo agrees with Bonin and said the new pope’s first priority should be cleaning up the church’s image. He said, “The sex abuse scandals have really tarnished the reputation of the Catholic Church.”

He said it takes a special kind of person to handle the pressures of being pope. Monsignor Arcamo pointed out, “He has to have holiness, the wisdom and the fortitude to make decisions in the best interest of Catholics worldwide.”

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