One of the biggest challenges for the new pope will be to revive the Catholic faith in a world growing ever more secular. He will have to reestablish a connection between the world of the Vatican and one of increasing poverty and misery.
One avenue for that may be Catholic organisations like the charity Caritas which helps the poor with food and accommodation.
Father Enrico, with Caritas in Rome, reflected on their work, and its spiritual inspiration.
He told euronews: “It seems to me that people are feeling a greater ethical need, deep inside them, nowadays. A lot of people are talking about concepts such as the greater good, ethics, social commitment on a daily basis, respect for others. But it’s hard for them to talk about these things, and it’s difficult for them to relate them to God, as if this was something they’re not used to.”
Among the people who Caritas helps, there is a strong interest in the process of choosing a new leader for the Roman Catholic Church.
Michael Desire, a political refugee from Ivory Coast, said it does not matter where the new pope is from, but he added: “If the pope is African we will welcome him, because he will give a boost to Africa which is the cradle of humanity.”
As Europe’s economic crisis shows little sign of easing, and with Italy particularly mired in recession, organisations like Caritas are facing greater demand.
The question is how great a role will they play in the Church’s future?
Euronews’ Simona Volta in Rome said: “Far away from the Vatican and the conclave there’s a different kind of church, in which priests and volunteers work every day to help to those most in need. But often their work does not translate into an overall increase in faith.”