Providence College Students React to Pope Benedict XVI

While I (and others) have written of the bias on campus and the liberal tendencies therein, it also behooves us to point out examples where it is obvious that open debate is encouraged. Such an example is Providence College. (Full disclosure: I’m currently attending grad school at PC). One can correctly assume that a college founded by a Catholic order (the Dominicans) would probably be more conservative than other schools, but that is not always necessarily true. In my experience, the student body and professors at PC are generally good about allowing open debate and don’t stray into non-related polemics during lectures. (And I have my antennae up). With all of that being said, here are some PC student reaction to the election of the new Pope. I think you’ll find a diversity of opnion, which is exactly what should be ocurring on a college campus.

(taken from The Cowl)

Students had differing opinions about the new pope’s philosophy, which is conservative. “I was hoping for a little more liberal [pope],” said Colin Boyle ’07. Erik Andersen ’06 agreed. “I would absolutely love a radical pope,” he said. However, he admitted that he admires Benedict in some respects. “He seems dedicated to intellectual honesty,” Anderson said.
“He’s a profound theologian and thinker,” said Elise Italiano ’06.
Many students speculated about how Ratzinger’s papacy will compare to that of John Paul II’s. “I feel he’ll carry on the mission of John Paul II,” said Italiano. Katie Collins ’07 agreed, saying, “I think [the decision] was definitely guided by the Holy Spirit and I don’t think he’ll deviate that much [from John Paul II’s papacy].”
. . . Adebola Adeleke ’08, also said he predicts that Benedict’s papacy will be similar to that of John Paul II. He said he will probably have a conservative “stance on birth control and the use of condoms; he probably won’t support that.” Adeleke said he is personally happy about his strong stance on some issues. “I agree with that; it’s Church doctrine,” he said.
“I think John Paul II was a little more liberal in his ideology,” said Danielle Pukala ’07. “I know John Paul made great strides in making amends with the Jewish community.” She said she hopes the new pope will continue a policy of openness.
Other students echoed this sentiment. “I think JP2 was pretty open about a lot of things,” said Emily Cohen ’07, adding that she hopes the new pope will be “tolerant and open-minded.”
Students hope that the new pope will address some of the controversial issues that surround the Church. “I think that the issue of gay marriage needs to be addressed,” said Romano, hoping that the two sides of this issue could “try to find a happy medium.”
Pat Molloy ’07 said that he hopes the new pope will focus more on the United States. “I wish he’d take a little more interest in the American Church,” he said, adding that “if Benedict worked with America, he could accomplish a lot of things.”
Erin Sladen ’07 said she hopes there will be more discussion concerning “priests being able to get married.” Gainor said she wants the Church to reexamine its position on life issues.
“They don’t necessarily look at the quality of life, they just look at keeping people alive,” she said, citing both the Terry Schiavo case and the issue of birth control in areas where AIDS is rampant.
Other students have questions they want answered. Michael Gallagher ’08 said he wonders about Benedict’s time in the German army. “It’s kind of odd,” he said, though he admitted that “he probably didn’t have much of a choice.”
. . . Molloy had a different take on the issue. “People are trying to bash him saying he’s in the Hitler youth, but I’m not sure how much water that holds,” he said. “Besides, that was in World War II when everyone had to be in it.”
Joe Donegan ’05 said he is trying to see both sides of the coin with respect to the new pope’s policies. “The human in me fears that his ultra-conservative tendencies will bring the Church a step backward, but I recognize that the Holy Spirit sometimes does the greatest things with the most unlikely characters,” he said.
Donegan gave the example of Pope John XXIII, who was elected as an interim pope but ended up convening the Second Vatican Council, as someone who went beyond what people expected of him. Donegan also cited Oscar Romero, an Archbishop of El Salvador. Romero was expected to be a puppet, but “the Holy Spirit gave him the grace to be an outspoken advocate of the poor against the political powers of the time.”
Will the selection of a new pope have an influence on student life? For some, it is simply an issue of comfort. “I’m glad to know there’s a new pope,” said Ken Hanchett ’08. “It’s settling.”

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