A new Pew Research study shows many American Catholics are ready for a change in direction within the church, as Pope Benedict steps down today.
It shows that "Most U.S. Catholics say it would be good if the next pope allows priests to marry...At the same time, many also express appreciation for the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church."
Nationally, Pew says Catholics are nearly equally divided on whether the next pope should maintain the traditional teachings of the church.
The study shows their top wishes for change include making the church more modern and getting tougher on abusers and ending the sex abuse scandal, and locally I found in an informal survey in the CBD that most people think priests should be allowed to marry, but about half I spoke to don't want women assuming the priesthood. "No, I'm not used to seeing that," is how one woman put it.
Many locally say they think the church should accept homosexuality and recognize gay marriage.
But nearly all agreed that the church needs to stop protecting abusers and become more open. "Yeah, I think they should change that. I think they were trying to hide it, so it wouldn't become public," one downtown man told me, echoing the sentiment of many.