Soapbox: Saros Kavina: Will the next Pope modernise the Catholic Church?
A BLACK Roman Catholic friend of mine asked me whether the next Pope would be white or not. He was a little shaken by my answer: "It does not really matter." The chances are that a black Pope would be more conservative and traditional than a white one.
Up to the age of nine, I was educated by Spanish Jesuit priests overseas. The Jesuits are considered to be the intellectual cream of the Catholic church. It should be remembered that the Jesuits take a vow of unquestioned loyalty to the papacy and were historically responsible for spearheading the counter-reformation in an attempt to stamp out the Protestant heresy.
What matters is not the colour of the next Pope, but papal infallibility.
In 1870, the Pope lost a vast area in mid-Italy known as the Papal States. Up to that time, popes were both a temporal and spiritual prince. The "Risorgimento" , or rebirth, of the Italian states was made possible by Garibaldi and his supporters. The Pope was obliged to retreat to Rome and his French garrison left after France's humiliating defeat during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War.
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Having lost its vast temporal lands, the papacy decided to dig in and instituted its spiritual supremacy. Papal infallibility is an edict of the Roman Catholic Church which states that when the Pope speaks "ex cathedra" on moral and spiritual matters, he must be obeyed without question.
So where do we go from here in our 21st century?
Will the papacy change its attitude on women priests, birth control or same sex marriage, for example?
And what about the massive wealth of the Roman Catholic church, based in Vatican State? At a time of grinding poverty in many Third World countries, can the vast treasures of the papacy be sold off, in part at least, to meet the need of millions of poor and destitute people, quite a few of whom are Roman Catholics?
The apostle St Peter was crucified upside down by the Romans during the Christian persecution. It is difficult to compare the sacrifice and devotion of the early Christians with the wealth and almost monarchical power of the papacy today. A great deal of real Christian humility and simple living is called for on the part of the papacy. Papal infallibility must be looked at again by the Roman Catholic Church if it is to modernise and be less dogmatic.