April 05, 2005

The Future of the Church


By Deborah Caldwell

The Catholic Church is no longer simply a European church. It’s not even a Northern Hemisphere church. Nor is it primarily a white church. It is now a universal church found in every country, every race, and nearly every global culture.

All of which means that when the 117 cardinals begin their conclave next week to pick the next pope, they’ll debate far more than liturgical fine points or birth control or how the church will deal with women’s roles. They’ll set the stage for Catholicism’s embrace of the 21st century—complete with globalization, terrorism, poverty, American dominance, and the clash of Christianity and Islam. ...

On the other hand, says Reese, American cardinals are worried about the loss of morale among their members because of the priest sex abuse crisis. It’s critical the Vatican keep Americans content because U.S. Catholics contribute about 25% of the Vatican’s annual budget. Meanwhile, both Americans and Europeans want someone willing to bend on issues such as birth control and priestly celibacy; they also want a man who continues the pope’s outreach to Protestants and Jews, and who can continue efforts to lure wealthy, secularized Catholics back to the pews. Those concerns might argue for an Italian pope, who could soothe Americans and energize Europeans.

Posted by kshaw at April 5, 2005 07:47 PM