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Many issues ahead for the new Pope

By Kevin Jefferies

Rome – As Pope Benedict XVI prepares for his inauguration Mass Sunday as head of over one billion Catholics worldwide, few expect many changes in Church doctrine. The new Pontiff was a close doctrinal ally of Pope John Paul II, and speculation that his appointment is meant as a transition has emerged. If that is the intent, Joseph Schmidt, who teaches a World Religion class on the A&M-Commerce campus, says it would make sense.

SCHMIDT: If they're hoping to maintain the same perspective at the top while they try to deal with some of these issues they are having to deal with as a denomination, that would make sense to me.

Many issues face the new Pope, such as stem cell research, women in the clergy, and homosexuality. The most important, perhaps, being the behavior of Catholic Priests.

SCHMIDT: They're going to have to do something, I think, to address the issue and ensure...or give confidence back to the people...that they are being proactive in terms of monitoring the behavior of their priests.

Over half a million people are expected in Rome for Benedict's inaugural Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica on Sunday.