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Is it time for an American Pope?

The next pontiff, whoever he is, will have an enormous task of reforming the Roman Curia

By on Tuesday, 19 February 2013

POPE GREETS CARDINAL O'MALLEY AT GENERAL AUDIENCE

The identity of the next Pope is now at the forefront of many people’s minds, and given the fact we now live in an age of 24 hour news coverage, Facebook and twitter, the space for speculation has certainly grown since the year when Popes John Paul I and John Paul II were elected. One thing stands out from that interesting year in my memory. I followed the news closely in the lead up to the conclaves, and at no point did anyone mention Albino Luciani (with the exception of one passing mention in Time) or Karol Wojtyla. When both men stepped out onto the balcony they did so as complete unknowns, and great surprises. Perhaps this time too the next Pope may be someone of whom we have not yet heard? There are after all 117 Cardinal electors, and not all of them, even now, will be given wall to wall coverage.

That year, 1978, the year of the three Popes, was also the year in which we heard insistently about the desirability of a Pope from the Third World. That idea is still with us: perhaps its time has come at last? But we were told another thing too: it was impossible that we could ever have an American Pope. The reasoning behind this, I seem to remember at the time, was that an American Pope would mean the Catholic Church being seen as aligned to the West, when the Church had to steer a neutral course between the West and the Soviet bloc.

At present, with the Soviet bloc being history, we are still told that we cannot have an American Pope, on the grounds that America is the world’s only superpower. Poor America, it cannot win. Only when it has sunk into total obscurity will it be able to give the world a Pope.

But why should this be the case? Who says an American can’t be Pope? Why should anyone be disqualified, or indeed qualified, by nationality?

When the See of Peter was last vacant, I was commissioned by a national newspaper to write an article on the Conclave, which was never published. But I remember saying that the first task that awaited the new Pontiff was the reform of the Roman Curia. That reform has still not been undertaken; indeed the Roman Curia seems more dysfunctional then ever. (There is a good analysis of this here.)

The task of reform is something that the new Pope, whoever he is, will not be able to put off. The pressure for reform is surely now irresistible. However, it will take great energy, and huge willpower, to cleanse the Augean stable. When I picture the enormity of the job ahead of the new Pope, I see him as the sort of man who will take no nonsense. Who is it the enemies of reform most fear, I wonder? Might it be an American Pope?

Readers interested in the nationality of Cardinals might find this list from Wikipedia of great usefulness over the coming days. 

  • Kevin

    Thanks, this is an interesting point. I am pleased to read of papal opposition to the claim of jus exclusivae.

    This is another example of an inappropriate attempt at secular influence on the Church. It can be seen today in perhaps more subtle forms, including suggestions that the Church might benefit from a pope with certain ethnic or national characteristics (e.g. American or black African) rather than others (e.g. European). To adapt Mark, it seems as if “it is only in his own country, in his own home, and among his own kindred, that a papal candidate goes unhonoured”.

    I think most people expect there to be a common Catholic culture – i.e. a universal commitment to the Social Kingship of Christ – that transcends all these things.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LDS3V2CYRQHOBNQHQ4HZLO22FI Tom

    Not so outrages as it sounds. Remember the yuk-it-up with all the press coverage with Obama sitting next to Dolan at the Al Smith dinner in New York two weeks before the most important election for the Catholic Church`s future this country has ever seen, which by the way has been previously canceled by other Cardinals for the candidate`s
    views on abortion? And remember all the praises for Obama after the highly publicized
    meeting at the White House shortly before the election? Lets not forget the speech given at Fordham Univ. to 3000 students praising Steven Colbert and Barbara Walters.
    When over 50% of Catholics vote for a pro-abortion, anti Catholic candidate who is determined to destroy Catholic institutions, it speaks volumes about the American
    Catholic hierarchy.

  • Sweetjae

    Cardinal Dolan is a good and orthodox bishop of the Church though sometimes his ways are mistaken as carefree. His intention going to the lion’s den (Obama’s party) is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ because as he rightly say, who else will feed these wayward and lost souls back to Christ?

    Mr. Carter won’t, he just complain and judge.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LDS3V2CYRQHOBNQHQ4HZLO22FI Tom

    Peter
    Who is judging now. I don`t he thinks he is better than, he is just telling it like it is. You
    can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig. By the way, looking the other way and just not saying anything while just blindly trusting kind of got us in the horrible shape we find ourselves in here in the U.S., with all the scandals and lawsuits and bankruptcies and dwindling attendance.No one from the hierarchy said a word till they were forced to by prosecutors. I don`t see any pride here, it is what it is. Veritas.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LDS3V2CYRQHOBNQHQ4HZLO22FI Tom

    Don`t hold your breath. He has come up to fast thanks to Card. Bertone, and has left to many skeletons in the closet in the Midwest where he used to be Archbishop. Of course if the left wing liberal media has it`s way he will be. He doesn’t go anywhere without them.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LDS3V2CYRQHOBNQHQ4HZLO22FI Tom

    Good?? I`ll leave that up to God to decide. Orthodox. Not really. Where was he
    when his good friend and photo-op buddy Gov. Cuomo pushed through same sex marriage law in New York. He was in Wash. State at a USCCB meeting.
    Even the New York Times wrote, ‘the gay advocacy groups were shocked at the lack of push back from the Catholic Church in New York, arguably the one institution that could have stopped this law in it`s tracks. I was surprised to see that because the left wing liberal media loves him. They followed him to Rome and all around Rome when he was elevated to Cardinal. He has been on ABC,
    NBC. CBS, Fox and when he was asked about some of the unorthodox Masses that included a skit about lady ga ga on EWTN he danced around the question and moved right on into a totally separate topic. Skilled performer. As
    head of the USCCB in 2011, the USCCB sent out an article to all the diocesan newspapers across the country praising Sec. of Labor Hilda Solis as a model Catholic politician While ignoring her 100% pro-abortion voting record while a congresswoman in Calif. where she even opposed partial birth restrictions. Now if you want to defend that as orthodox, be my guest. I won`t even go into the Minn. payoffs before he left for New York. As I said good, I`ll leave to God,
    orthodox I take issue with. By the way Hilda Solis is now responsible for enforcing the HHS Mandate.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LDS3V2CYRQHOBNQHQ4HZLO22FI Tom

    I think you better look again between the lines.

  • Paul

    The Holy Spirit will decide who will be our Papa.  Instead of predicting and casting votes of our own, let us pray for the guidence of the Holy Spirit to be sent down upon the Cardinals “like the dewfall”.

  • Patricius

     Do you think you could exercise a little more discipline over the “Caps Lock” key, please. Excessive use rather gives the impression that you are shouting.

  • Paul

    If the electors are taking my advice it will be a Chinese pope.  Archbishop Han is ‘papabile.’  There may be others.

  • rigmarole

    I remember the chummerings of the last time the Conclave was called and the same-old-same-old gobs on sticks trotted out like ‘the next pope could be from Africa, Latin America…’ etc.

    And, in the end, our pope was Joseph Ratzinger – the wonderful Pope Benedict XVI, whose decision to retire still hurts.

    He was the new brush that swept clean in his all-too-short time in the shoes of Peter and he did not deserve the vitriolic abuse aimed at him.

    I, too, hope for a Pontiff who will not kow-tow to the media and the changing fashions the world follows. I, too, pray and hope for a Pontiff who will stay true to the Magisterium and be a good shepherd to his flock.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    “The Holy Spirit will decide who will be our Papa.”

    One hears this so often that one has to wonder where the idea came from.

    In the words of Father Large, Provost of the Oratory in Britain:

    “Only slightly less annoying than the predictable speculation on ‘Vatican power struggles’ are the pious platitudes that tend to emerge around the time of a Conclave: “Oh Father, we can relax. It’s the Holy Spirit who will choose the new Pope.” No. It is actually the cardinals who will elect the Pope, and the College of Cardinals is a fallible group of fallible men.”

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Sweetjae is intellectually incapable of doing that.

  • Margaret O

    Archbishop Chaput is my choice ……. all the way from Western Australia.  But how is this possible, when he’s not even going to Rome?  I’m praying for a miracle!  

  • Sweetjae

    It’s the kind similar like the collection of Books and letters (Corinthians 1 and 2, Galatians, Romans, Luke, Mark etc) were written by fallible ignorant men, collected and made into a Canon also by fallible men 400 years later that resulted in an infallible Word of God, the Holy Scripture.

  • Sweetjae

    He is my second. Well he could be elected even he’s not a Cardinal. It happened before to a priest and a monk.

  • Sweetjae

    I second the motion, it’s like occurring again the Words of Christ to Peter, “Upon this Rock, I will build My Church”.

  • Sweetjae

    Directly quoting Mr. Carter, “Dolan [no respect and courtesy at all to call him Cardinal] , a grinning baffoon”!!!!!

    That is very uncharitable for a so called ‘catholic’.

    What is your objection again?

  • Sweetjae

    You have been weighed and found wanting. [again].

  • Sweetjae

    Between the lines as what? The Cardinal maybe is quilty of acts of omission but he never say nor teach anything contrary to the Teachings of the Church. He always condemned abortion and same-sex marriage.

    Though I don’t vote for Democrats only because of these two major flaws however, Republicans are also a bunch of red-neck buffoons who care only about their country-club buddies’ wealth. Look at Romney, he’s been complaining about hand-outs to the marginalized people yet he didn’t consider the huge tax break he and his buddies got as hand-outs, eh? And the guy is a proven liar.

  • Sweetjae

    Cardinal Dolan is not one of my favs like Archbishop Chaput and Burke, however, Cardinal Dolan maybe is quilty of omission but he never say nor teach anything contrary to the Teachings of the Catholic Church, that is what I meant by being orthodox.

    He praised Sec. Of Labor for her contribution and work regarding the equal treatment of workers and their just wages by greedy and selfish red-neck capitalists. It was not related to her voting record on abortion.

    If so, what do you think of Pope Benedict warmly congratulating Obama on his election victory? The Pope was endorsing Obama’s abortion record too?

  • Sweetjae

    They were still ordained as Bishops the moment before they ascended to the Throne of Peter.

  • Sweetjae

    Why you are also judging right? What the guy is saying this Mr. Carter has total disrespect towards Catholic Bishops-Successors of the Apostles as if they are ordinary criminals. Is acting prudently a vice?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    300 years later. You’re only out by 100 years. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    By you? 

    Funny!

  • daclamat

    B16′s announcement of his retirement was greeted with sycophantic cries of “Courageous, revolutionary”. He spent the whole of his papacy not being! I’im hoping that the Holy Spirit will sneak in among the placemen with whom the electoral college has been packed and get them to hit on the wheeze of getting another German  to do the job: Müller, the new boss of the Inquisition (B16 loved all things medieval- the old title is my tribute). Müller is doctrinally steady, but open. I won’t list his credentials, for fear of waking up the suspicions of the electors!

  • daclamat

    What about a married man with kids, barely literate. Jesus thought it a good choice, even though he let him down when he needed him most!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Muller has just been routed by Cardinal Bertone over the former’s support for liberation theology and his fitness for the job as the head of the CDF is now seriously in question. He has no chance at all 

    http://cathcon.blogspot.com/2013/02/battle-in-vatican-leaves-archbishop.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FZMRq+%28Catholic+Church+Conservation%29

  • daclamat

    Who says so? Pope are only what they say they are.

  • daclamat

    Let’s have a Borgia, a follower of Berlusconi, so that the whole Church can rise up in revolt and disgust and stasrt again.

  • WG Grace

    Many of them are much, much worse than ordinary criminals, because there are many souls now in hell who are there because of the Bishops’ complacency, lack of fidelity to the Faith and the total lack of paternal charity which corrects and punishes when necessary. 

  • WG Grace

    Down here in Gloucestershire we are hoping for a Pope who plays cricket. Perhaps Ranjinth or Pell?

  • http://www.kremlin.ru/ The Great Stalin

    300 years later. Only 100 years out.

  • http://www.kremlin.ru/ The Great Stalin

    Consecrated, not ordained. It’s not a separate Sacrament.

  • Sweetjae

    I know what you are saying and I totally agree with you however, I don’t think Cardinal Dolan is one of them. Also, I always give the benefit of the doubt and act prudently even if there are existing accusations by the mere fact of the dignity of the Office they hold. Let God decide on their fate if deserving not us, that’s all I’m saying.

  • daclamat

    No he hasn’t.  Bertone has nothing to do with it. The Peruvians hierarchs tried to close down the Lima Pontical university, an close down the its professors. M! stepped in and told them to back off. Müller attended Gustavo Gutierrez’s seminar every year, and followed up by working icognito with peasant farmers. Müller replaced the disgraceful Levada. a poacher turned game-keeper on the matter of shielding priest child-abusers. Appointing Müller was one of the few courageous acts of B16′s papacy.  No matter how orthodox or otherwise interpreters of Gutierrez may be, he himself is perfectly orthodoc, and has inspired martyrs, such as Oscar Romero and the Jesuit martyrs of san Salvador.  I’m not one to pass judgement o Gutierrez’s orthodoxy, save to mention that he has answered any queries satisfactorally emanting from the curia. May I suggest you read him before you make haste to judge

  • Sweetjae

    You are right at the Council of Hippo, 393 A.D. Well, almost 400 but thanks.

  • Sweetjae

    I love the good Archbishop Chaput, if only all the clergy are like him, faithful and holy.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LDS3V2CYRQHOBNQHQ4HZLO22FI Tom

    First of all, the Vatican sends congratulations to all leaders as the it is Vatican protocol to maintain diplomatic ties and the Pope as head of State greets many foreign leaders from all over the world. No one is judging anyone and I never said nor indicated that Cd. Dolan ever said anything that was not in communion with Church teachings. You lead by example. You can not say one thing and do another. What kind of message dose that send to the Faithful. You demonstrate my point perfectly with the comment about Sec of Labor Solis. In other words it is fine to separate and pick and chose whatever advances your agenda even if she supports killing innocent children in the womb. And lets not digress this discussion down the rabbit hole of politics. Calling people ‘red necks’ is not very charitable either. The only point you`ve made that I agree with is your statement about Archbishop Chaput, and Card Burke. Two  men who exemplify exactly what I am saying. They say what they mean, they don`t play politics and they state the doctrine of the Church and let the chips fall where they may. And, by the way, when the Holy Father met with the pro-abortion Catholic Nancy Pelosi, he would not let the cameras and news crews in to do photo-ops and the Vatican issued a strong message about what was said to her in private which I read and admonished her for her pro-abortion positions. St. John the Baptist stood up to a leader when he was wrong and had his head delivered on platter. That’s called living your Faith. Pax.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LDS3V2CYRQHOBNQHQ4HZLO22FI Tom

    Lets not digress down the rabbit hole of politics. You make my point exactly with the comment about Sec of Labor Solis. In other words it is OK to pick and chose what advances your agenda even if she promotes and supports the killing of innocent children in the womb. The Holy Father is head of State and greets leaders from all over the world, good and bad. When Nancy Pelosi with her pro-choice views visited the
    Vatican the Holy Father, unlike Dolan, refused to allow the cameras and the news crews to do photo-ops with her and issued a strong statement about what was said in private where he warned her about her views on abortion. This is called doing what you preach. The reason you like Card. Burke and Archbishop Chaput is, in my view, that unlike Dolan they stand up to politicians and say what they mean and let the chips fall where they may. Isn`t that what St. John the Baptist did when he stood up to a king and told him he was wrong. It cost him his head on a platter. That, my friend, is called living your Faith. Pax

  • http://www.kremlin.ru/ The Great Stalin

    May the Great Stalin ask you Comrade to read the link given!!!! Comrade Muller, one of ours, is in bad odour, unfortunately!!!!

  • http://www.kremlin.ru/ The Great Stalin

    330′s in fact Comrade!!!! But never mind!!!!

  • Katie

    No

  • Sweetjae

    Well I agree with you 100%, that’s the reason why I said Cardinal Dolan might have sinned by complacency, however, there is no justification to call him a “grinning buffoon” by mr. Carter.

  • Texas Catholic

    One of our “Archbishops of Amnesty,” Chaput recently put out a statement saying amnesty is “pro-life” and if you oppose is for illegal immigrants, you are a bigot.  He’s just as much of a “social justice” Catholic as any of them.

  • LongIslandMichael

    I can tell you as American that Archbishop Chaput is the real deal. He is outstanding. Cardinal Burke is also very good as well. Both are strong and faithful no nonsense leaders. I can also say that I am very, very disappointed in Cardinal Dolan. His invitation to the murderer Obama to the Al Smith Dinner in October was a huge disappointment and should never have happened. Al Smith is turning over in his grave right now knowing that our Anti Catholic and Anti God, community organizer of a president would ever share the honor of a charity and dinner hosted in his name by the Archbishop of NY. Also he was very very weak in his response to Andrew Coumo the Governor of NY latest rant on the promotion of more abortions and abortion services. Then today I read where he agrees with the man child president on more steps to eliminate the 2nd amendment with regards to guns.

    While Archbishop Chaput and Cardinal Burke are great and holy men they are needed to help clean up the American Church and restore some sanity and discipline to it. I hope pray that the next pope will be not from the US or Western Europe but from Africa, Latin America or the Asia or even Eastern Europe. The Church is growing in these continents and our fellow brothers and sisters in the areas appreciate the faith and love of Christ. They have not been tainted by western secular liberalism. They are interested in spreading and sharing the Good News of Christ and His Church. They truly understand and appreciate their faith and the sacrifices they have made for it and want to protect it. They know and understand that liberal, secular ideas like contraception, abortion and women’s ordination, gay marriage and attacks on the Church are the devil’s work and they want no part of it. The people from these area is where the Church’s future lies and through God’s grace the laborer’s will come to re-evangelize and save Western Europe, the US and Canada.

  • LongIslandMichael

     Dolan is becoming more and more of a disappointment imo. There are some good Catholic leaders like Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Chaput who are fearless when it comes to defending the Church and proclaiming Christ’s good news. They are both very intelligent and humble but you are right and I have to say sadly they are the rare exception rather then rule. The Church in the US has been and still  is an infection on the world wide Church. 

  • LongIslandMichael

     Sweetjae as an American I have to say that I have become very very concerned about Cardinal Dolan lately. I mentioned the Al Smith Dinner in October, the weak response to Gov Coumo this past month and now his cozying up to Obama on gun control. He has not been as forceful as he should (alot of the american bishops have failed in this regard) in standing up to Obamacare abortion and contraception mandates for private businesses as they should be. As leader of the USCCB he needs to be more forceful. I have to wonder if he has become affected by the media and the disease inherent in most people of “going along to get along.”

  • LongIslandMichael

     Gordis85,
    I have to say wrt to Cardinal Dolan he is beginning to show signs of what most american politicians suffer from “wanting to be loved by the media”- the weak response to Cuomo recently on more and more abortion mandates for NY state and the Al Smith Dinner invitation to our man child president were disgraceful. Now he is cozying up to Obama on gun control.

  • LongIslandMichael

     Charles you hit the nail on the head. You are absolutely correct in your assessment.