Hardball with Chris Matthews, 2/27/13, 7:00 PM ET

Matthews: For new pope choice, cardinals should not cave to the most conservative

Chris Matthews says there’s progress that needs to be made inside the Catholic Church as a new pope is selected.

Cardinals should not cave to the most conservative when picking a new pope

Updated

Let me finish tonight with this.

I’d like to think that the College of Cardinals will find the perfect successor to St. Peter. I’d like to think the hundred-plus cardinals will select someone young enough, strong enough, courageous enough, visionary enough, and, yes, liberal enough to lead, to fill the shoes of the fisherman with a CEO. If Alan Mulally can bring back Ford—bring it to exciting, vibrant life again—I’d like to think that the cardinals can find an Alan Mulally to run our beloved, but troubled, church.

The trouble, by the way, is central: it’s with the priesthood. Right now, the notion, and it is a notion, is that there will be a sufficient number of men willing to give up sex for life, give up intimate relations with others at the same time connect with people as human beings, someone who is understanding of human life, understanding of the decisions people make and still love them, the way Jesus loved Mary Magdalene. A good example there, don’t you think?

Yes—that’s my answer! Yes, it can be done.

The College of Cardinals is capable of finding such a pope. The one absolute demand I put forward is that they make the effort: no knee-jerk choice of a “front runner,” no caving to the most conservative or most cautious or some cute selection of someone from a hitherto unknown home of a pope.

We have had two popes in a row from countries where they grew up under repression. John Paul II grew up under the boot of Moscow, Benedict under the Nazis. Perhaps that explains their inability to unshackle the church from the past. People who are repressed in their religion tend to be very conservative in holding on to what’s been entrusted to them.

Here’s hoping—prayer is really in order—that the next leader of the Catholic Church has something of John XXIII in him, because looking at the problem of the celibate priesthood and the problem American Catholics see in the birth control view of Paul XI and the role of women, lots needs to be done and it’s the job of a good, wise, courageous pope to do it.

God bless our next pope. God bless the decision on how to pick him.

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Cardinals should not cave to the most conservative when picking a new pope

Updated