Friday, January 6, 2012
By Bryan Cones
In another sign that we can expect little change (short of divine intervention) in the church, Pope Benedict XVI’s 22 new cardinals (18 of whom will be eligible to vote in the next papal conclave) are dominated by Curial officials (10 of the 18 who can vote) and Europeans (12 eligible to vote). Of the Europeans, seven are Italian. Even the four “honorary” cardinals are all from Europe. Seriously, does the church need seven more Italian cardinals? I bet you could throw a bocce ball in St. Peter’s Square and have it bounce off two of them before it hits the ground.
Only a single cardinal hails from South America (Brazil), with one each from India and China, and not a single appointment from Africa. Worse, only seven of the electors are sitting bishops–bishops who lead actual churches with actual people–which means that, at least as it stands now, the next papal conclave will likely be dominated by members of the Curia and Italians.
I’m not sure I know the best way to select the bishop of Rome, but this system of having the pope name the electors for his own successor is way outdated and in no way reflects where Catholics live or where the church is growing. Why not allow the national conferences of bishops to choose their delegates to the conclave? Maybe give a bonus delegate to places where the church is growing?
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