Church-goers at midday Mass at St. Clare Catholic Church in O'Fallon expressed the qualities they're looking for in the next leader of the Church:
* "Someone to be strong enough to keep our faith," said Rose Sielings, of O'Fallon. She was upset about talks within the Belleville Diocese of closing up to 20 parishes. "I hope and pray that doesn't happen."
* "A holy, faith-filled man," said John Burke, of O'Fallon. "Whoever God puts there."
* "Maybe someone that's under 60," said Steve Hellmann, of O'Fallon.
* "I'm just excited," said Suzie Durnford, of O'Fallon. "Maybe someone young; I know Benedict was shocked (when he was named pope). Who knows, maybe we'd have an American pope?"
* The pope's decision to step down is in the best interest of the church, said Pat Cates, of New Baden. "It's always been the good of the church... To make such a decision, it's got to be a gift from God."