Wounded by physical, psychological and spiritual assaults, they keep insisting that something is terribly wrong with an institution that pays millions in attorneys fee to keep secret its conspiracy to hide the facts and help clergy avoid prosecution.
What may matter more than the new pope's nationality is his commitment to allowing the growth of lay leadership and culturally sensitive worship that is at the heart of the success of the Pentecostal movement.
While these are enormous challenges for Pope Francis, the grace of God is sufficient for faithful church leaders to lead. And Jorge Bergoglio is said to be such a man of God -- fervent in personal faith and consistent prayer.
The Cardinals understood that they needed a pope who is close to the less fortunate, and far from the ostentation and intrigue of the palazzo. And that's who they've chosen.
An event like this only comes around every few decades, so it's a big news week for the Vatican's biggest -- and only -- gossip rag, Papal Magazine. Check out some of the highlights.
Maybe the new pope will realize that to be universal, the church needs to embrace differences and expand love rather than embracing limiting and separatist beliefs.
Today was probably the first -- and last -- time someone who is both Muslim and gay will be the one to bring Catholic priests news of a new Pope.
When so much about the Catholic Church seems both antiquated and sick at this moment, like a building whose foundation is crumbling, maybe it needs to come down and be rebuilt differently.
The Vatican has been happy to let us know how serious they are about security, anxious to tell the world they can indeed keep a secret. But no cardinal is fooled by the slamming door; they all know they cannot keep the world out.
Men of conclave, you will reach a Decision soon, I am sure of it as the well being of your church and livelihood depends on it. But how many more conclaves can go on without a shift in thinking?
Does the Catholic church need to worry about being innovative? I'd like to hear from both Catholics and from critics. The church's recent very-public crises certainly demonstrate a lack of adaptability and agility.
As Roman Catholic cardinals gather in the magnificent Sistine Chapel to select a new pope, their conclave is at a critical crossroads. Will the cardinals vote for a pope who can re-energize the faithful, and restore the trust that has been missing for millions of lapsed Catholics?
The choice will depend on whether the 117 Cardinals voting will lean more toward seriously reforming the Catholic Church -- notably as it relates to the continuing problem of pedophilia and lack of transparency -- or roughly keeping to the status quo.
Whoever succeeds Pope Benedict faces challenges that will impact Catholics everywhere, but will the choice have any impact on Catholic doctrine, which many believe is suspended somewhere between the Council of Trent counter-reformation and Vatican II.
I'm no theologian, but I have heard for a lifetime, from Catholic preachers and teachers of all stripes, that "the least" matter the most in the eyes of God.