Feb. 12, 2013
/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Catholics enter the Lenten season, the former U.S. ambassador to the
calls for "a worldwide dialogue with Catholics from every corner of the earth" about the leadership qualities desired in a new pope.
"The church needs a global leader and healer who can creatively, critically and constructively welcome the richness and catholicity of the human family and dialogue with the world concerning the great challenges it faces at this moment in human history," said
, who stepped down as ambassador in November to serve as University Professor of Faith and Culture at the
University of Dayton
"Wouldn't it be great if during Lent -- a period of prayer and fasting and conversion -- the Catholic church entered into a dialogue with the world's one billion Catholics on who their next leader should be?"
A prominent Catholic theologian, Diaz was the first Hispanic to represent
the United States
at the Vatican. What leadership characteristics does this recent Vatican insider deem important?
"We need a charismatic, inclusive and thoughtful spiritual leader," Diaz said. "We need a diplomat, someone who can bridge human differences, someone who can engage with Muslims, Hindus, Jews -- all religions and people of no religion."
The next pope should encourage the recognition and flourishing of human gifts at every level of the church and society, and the contribution and role of women in positions of leadership," Diaz said. "A 21st century pope should listen and respond justly regarding issues of power and privilege."
In interviews with national media, Diaz called Pope Benedict XVI's decision to retire at the end of the month "an act of great grace." The Catholic church, Diaz said, stands at a crossroads.