By Mark Abrams

By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As the cardinals of the Catholic Church prepare to select the next pope, some may be wondering what – if any role – can the pope play in our modern society?

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Many say the moral authority of the Catholic Church has been weakened by the clergy sex abuse scandal and the hierarchy which covered it up for years.

And while all agree he will have to address those ills, there is also agreement the next pope must find a way to fit into today’s world.

Father Frank Berna, director of graduate theology and ministry at LaSalle University, says the new pope has to take the pulse of the people, not just those who are loyal to the church, but those who have fallen away.

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“Why is it that people are not attracted to institutional religion? What’s going on? And, then taking a look at how do we as a church respond to people’s real needs, their dreams, their hopes, their frustrations, their anger.”

And, Berna says the next pope must be willing to open a dialogue with those of other faiths doing more listening than speaking.

“Listening to the world and the peoples of the world – Catholics and Protestants and Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists. Listening to the world and then reflecting and creatively speaking with the world that kind of creative engagement with the world.”

Mark Abrams will be reporting live from Rome when the Conclave convenes to select a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. Follow his updates on KYW Newsradio and

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