St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson
By Mike Bush
St. Louis (KSDK) - While more than a billion Catholics are closely watching the information coming from the Vatican, Archbishop Robert Carlson is more focused on the issues he's dealing with in St. Louis.
"I'd say it's the challenge of the Catholic school system right now," Carlson said.
That's not to say the Archbishop is not paying attention. After all, it was Pope Benedict XVI who appointed the Minnesota native to his post in St. Louis in 2009. He admits Benedict's resignation caught him off guard.
"I would say, it reflects for me the humility of the person that he can step back from where he was and say, 'I can't do it anymore,'" Carlson said.
There's been much speculation over who will be the next pope and Archbishop Carlson mentioned Milan Cardinal Angelo Scola as a possible frontrunner. While he has no inside information, he does have an idea of what kind qualities he'd like to see in the next Supreme Pontiff.
"I would say first of all somebody who has great pastoral skills and then someone who can communicate them, which means you have to be multilingual so that you can speak to the people of the world because everyone wants to hear in their own native language," Carlson said.
As to the possibility of an American, like Cardinal Timothy Dolan, becoming to the next pope, Archbishop Carlson admits it's a long shot.
"I find the name of Cardinal Dolan raised more often and, interestingly, by Italians. You know he has a personality bigger than life, he is a pastor from the word go, he speaks a lot of languages and he's very well educated," he said.
After a series of scandals, many are wanting a change in the direction of Church leadership and Archbishop Carlson thinks the next pope will not only have to be a healer but someone who can deal with the realities of our ever changing world.
"It's the culture that the church has to address that's true since the time of Jesus," Carlson said. "He addressed the culture."