KANSAS CITY, KS - While the early departure of Pope Benedict XVI on February 28, 2013 will not affect the day-to-day operations of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., it will leave the Catholic Church short of a global leader.
Rose Hammes, Communications Director of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., said she expects a new Pope will be elected before Easter. Hammes anticipates that the next Pope may reflect the growing changes in the church's membership.
"We certainly know the church in Africa is growing exponentially and South American countries are experiencing huge growth again. Europe has been always been the place where the Pope has been elected from. I personally think that it will not be someone from Europe. We don't stop to think about the fact that there are people who hold the same values and faith all over the world that we do so to have someone from a different continent become Pope would expose us more to the cultures and the way of experiencing faith that other people do across the world," said Hammes.
Cardinals are expected to be called into conclave within the next couple of days to start the election process. Hammes anticipates cardinals will consider age as a major factor for the next papal candidates.
"How many of us want to be working a full time high stress job when we're in our 80's?"
Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, when he was in his 70's, following the death of Pope John Paul II. In a recent trip to Rome, Hammes said Pope Benedict appear frail and weak.
In a statement Monday morning, Pope Benedict said, "I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise."
"He probably learned some lesson from his predecessor in watching the lessons of Pope John Paul II and said maybe I don't want to do that. Maybe I need to allow someone with more energy," Hammes said.
The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415.