Editorial: A progressive pope may be exactly what the Catholic Church needs
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013 22:02
Last week, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would be resigning from his position as head of the Catholic Church. Beginning Feb. 28, the pope will no longer be the infallible leader. In the announcement, the pope cited old age and infirmity as his reasons for resigning. He believes that if the pope is no longer physically or mentally strong enough to continue to lead the church, it is his duty to step down. Having said that, Benedict is the first pope in six centuries to resign from the position. Saying he had examined his conscience “before God,” Benedict decided that he was no longer up to the challenge of guiding the world’s one billion Catholics.
The news comes as a shock to most but a relief to many who are worried about the future of the Catholic Church. Many hope that whoever replaces Pope Benedict will be better equipped to manage the problems facing church today, in an age where Islam is rising in Europe and Protestant evangelical groups are becoming prominent in the United States, Latin America and Africa. That is not to mention the many others around the world who consider themselves secular. In addition, the church is still marred by the sexual abuse scandals that have become a major repeating topic of contention for the church in the past decade.
Benedict was considered by many to be a strongly conservative leader, keeping the church’s scope relatively small and geared toward the devout. However, there are many in the Vatican who believe that the church can broaden its appeal by tackling social issues such as celibacy of priests, ordaining women, allowing divorced people who remarry without an annulment to receive communion or revisiting the church’s view on the use of condoms in an effort to prevent AIDS.
Perhaps these people are right. Although the Catholic Church has its enemies and very vocal critics, it cannot be argued that it has a major scope and reach in the modern day. During Pope Benedict the XVI’s time as head of this organization, Catholicism has mostly stagnated. Perhaps the new pope should be a bit more progressive, using the resources of the church to make changes and adapt it for a growingly secular world. The church is currently looking to fight a battle of demographics that Benedict didn’t seem to be interested in. The distribution of Catholic people is mostly stuck in Latin America, Africa and Europe. As mentioned, those numbers are shrinking and Catholics everywhere aren’t interested in being obsolete in a modern world.
When the conclave begins in the next few weeks, the College of Cardinals will try and select which devout Catholic will become the new head of the church. Hopefully this time they will pick one whose mantra isn’t “business as usual.” A progressive pope might be just the shot in the arm that Catholicism needs.