April 24, 2005

Checking Barnett

In a recent roundup Dr. Barnett, of Pentagon's New Map fame, reiterated his pessimism on the election of Benedict XVI

That's why my discomfort over Benedict as pope remains: to me, it's totally a fear-the-Gap call--a circling the Core wagons mentality displayed. Catholicism isn't all about "us" anymore, and hasn't been for a very long time. I had a bit in BFA I thought I would have to rewrite with John Paul's death. Now I just need to jack up the wording to make it more pointed.

I think that Benedict is going to be a very good transitional Pope, one that is going to make the 1st "Southern" or "Gap" pope much more effective when he's finally elected. Right now, the College is disproportionately concentrated in historic dioceses that have lost their faithful but not the tradition that a red hat goes to the local bishop. That has to get fixed.

As someone who has been the doctrinal enforcer for JP II for so long, Benedict is going to be able to shift the red hats around to a far greater extent without protest than someone from the South/Gap would. Nobody's going to worry that Benedict is going to revive liberation theology by sprinkling Latin America with new cardinals. There might be more concern if it were a pope from that region doing it. Suspicion of region favoritism is not a good way to maintain peace in the College.

So here we have an objective measure, something that you don't need to be an insider to see. If Benedict is truly a "circle the wagons" pope then he's not going to increase the representation of Africa/Asia/Latin America. If he isn't, he'll do it in order to realign power in the hierarchy with people in the pews and make a transition so that the next time around, the Conclave will have an awful lot more diversity and the old European power bloc will be weakened.

There are likely other objective measures to watch for but this is a big one. If the College simply shifts out of eurocentricity under Benedict XVI and becomes more distributed, it will be a worthwhile papacy as far as Gap progress is concerned.

Posted by TMLutas at April 24, 2005 10:16 PM