What Should He Do?

A TIME Forum: American Catholics suggest priorities the new pontiff should tackle in the days ahead

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SISTER HELEN PREJEAN

Crusader against the death penalty and author of Dead Man Walking:

Most of the world is in poverty; starvation and malnutrition kill a lot more people than wars do ... He could go into the neighborhoods of the poor--it would bring him directly in touch with what we're doing to Mother Earth. Where the poor people are is where the toxic wastes are. He could follow the line of Pope John Paul II, who talked about how being aware of [what we're] doing to Earth is part of spirituality. It is not of another world but is linked very much to this one.

TOM MONAGHAN

Founder of Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., and the Domino's Pizza chain:

I'm hoping he does something about Catholic education. Catholics just don't understand their faith. They don't understand why the church has the authority to tell them that they have to do this and they can't do that ... This should be a benevolent monarchy, not a democracy. The church in one sense is a military organization, just like the Marine Corps.

MARIO CUOMO

Former Governor of New York:

The most one can expect, although it's less than one can hope for, would be an admission by the Pope that the man-made rules are alterable by the church that made them. Even an unannounced but perceptible change in its attitude about contraceptives. Those rules are not enforced in this country. No priest will get up on the pulpit on Sunday and say, "Those who use contraceptives should leave the church."

MARY GORDON

Barnard College professor and author, most recently of Pearl:

I'd like him to understand that with an AIDS pandemic, to hold the line against the use of condoms is to ensure that many, many people will die. I would like him to be concerned with actual human suffering rather than with philosophical theological abstractions.

RICK SANTORUM

U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania:

He's got to continue the ideals and evangelize. There are great challenges in many areas of the world for the church, whether it's China or the problems with Islam in Africa and parts of Asia. All those great and pressing problems with the persecution of the church throughout many areas of the world. What John Paul II did was reach out, attempt a dialogue. The challenge for Benedict will be to see if he can break down these barriers to religious tolerance.

JENNIFER REED

Member of the Young Adult Advisory Board at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:

A lot of youth today are more conservative. Pope Benedict XVI's views are conservative and traditional, and he will give answers to those of us who are searching. The biggest challenge facing Pope Benedict XVI is how he's going to deal with issues of women in the church. The Catholic youth I work with believe women should be leaders--but as lay servants of the church serving the community through liturgy and as Eucharistic ministers, not as priests administering sacraments.

GILBERTO CARDENAS

Director of the Institute for Latino Studies:

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