Monday, April 04, 2005

The Papal Stakes - Look to Latin America - Aim the Staff at Beijing

Here is a very interesting post, via Drudge which discusses the likelihood that the next Pope will be from Latin America.

It makes sense to believe that the Cardinals will elect someone from that region. The election of John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla from Krakow, Poland was revolutionary in itself, given that the Papacy has usually been held by an Italian. And given the shoes that need filling, a dynamic personality is required.

The Latin American church has faced much adversity over the past 20 years given its combating of the drug trade, totalitarian governments and leftist guerilla movements that developed in the 80s. Further, it is one of the most morally conservative regions of the Church. Normal conventions of western society, such as elective abortion, homosexuality and even divorce are socially taboo and often illegal. And John Paul II left room for nothing but a moral conservative. The numbers also potentially favor a Latin American Pope. 19% of the cardinals (22 of 117) are from the region, the largest group outside of the Europeans. But more to the point, to fill John Paul II's shoes, it would make sense to appoint an "operator" rather than an administrator.

John Paul II came from communist Poland. He had spent his life opposing totalitarian regimes. He trained for the ministry in secret when Poland was held by the Nazis, and stared down the Soviets as the Cardinal of Krakow, and then again as the Pope. His resolve emboldened the Poles, and his direct support of Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement created such a political burden for the communists that the Eastern Bloc finally cracked, creating the environment of freedom that exists in those nations to this day. And his work revived the nature of the Papacy. He transformed the Papacy from a bureaucratic post to one of global authority tempered with personal mercy.

Many of the Latin American Cardinals have experience in opposing very real evils, and many come from a pastoral background, which is why John Paul II, a man of such authority, was a man loved by the masses. At heart, he was the people's pastor. So one of these "steeled" cardinals may be an excellent selection.

And while some suggest that the next Pope make efforts to marginalize Islamism, it will be hard to avoid the characterization that it would be another "Crusade". The best solution is to establish missions in the region to do what the Catholic Church does better than anyone in the world--the work of mercy to the poor. Authority often comes from service, and as we have seen in Iraq, mercy to the poor is often the most devastating weapon evil ever met. But politically, the next Pope's best target will be communist China.

The Pope could very well aim his staff at Beijing as John Paul II did at Moscow, and regularly decry the inhumane policies of the regime, as well as the barbaric enforcement of them, especially the one-child policy. The Church does have a presence there, and the opportunity is to embolden the faithful. The 1989 Tiananmen Square protest and subsequent massacre of the people reflect a willingness of the Chinese people to stand up to a vile government that rejects the people's rights, and such bravery needs to be encouraged.

President Bush has an interest in fostering a strong relationship with this new Pope. Because a China busy keeping its internal house in order is a China that can be undermined internationally, as the time has come to check them given their open discussions about the invasion of Taiwan, and their efforts to undermine U.S. access to oil.

It's about time that the Chicoms begin to discover just how destructive the power of a prayerful people and a supportive Pope can be. John Paul II showed us that evil cannot withstand faithfulness, which may have been one of the greatest lessons he gave us.

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