mngcornaglia is a Reader contributor. See staff page for published articles.

Who put the "ash" in Ash Wednesday?

Op-Ed What we need in a pope A variety of noted Catholics describe what they would like in a new pontiff. March 3, 2013, LA Times On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI became the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to willingly step down from his position. What kind of man will the cardinals who have gathered in Rome from around the world choose to be his successor? We asked Catholics from a variety of perspectives to write about some of the qualities they would like to see in a new pope. Sackcloth and ashes By Sister Eileen McNerney The first words that I would like our new pope to say are, "For the next 40 days, I will be wearing sackcloth and ashes in repentance for the sins of our church." The horrendous scandal of sexual abuse has pained me deeply, and I know that I am not alone in how I carry this sadness. I believe that a strong symbolic gesture from our next pope could do much to heal this pain. I want him to lead us in fearlessly facing the challenges of the Catholic Church in this postmodern age, forthrightly exploring issues that might threaten to divide us. And I pray that he will always have before him the words that Jesus used in calling St. Peter, the first pope: "Do not be afraid!" The new pope will need our loyalty and our prayers, and he has mine from the start. Sister Eileen McNerney is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Orange County and author of "A Story of Suffering and Hope: Lessons From Latino Youth."
— March 3, 2013 11:17 a.m.