Earlier, grand strategist Tom Barnett was less-than-happy about the new Pope
Ratzinger, John Paul II’s enforcer, basically pulled off an insider succession. This is such a bad thing for the Catholic Church, I am almost speechless.
What an amazingly bad pick. Ratzinger is the Chernenko coming on the heels of enfeebled Brezhnev. Complete step backward that history will blame on John Paul II and his sorry management of church in 1990s and 2000s until his death. The regent assumes the throne.
Until a real New Core or Gap pope succeeds Ratzinger (he should just go with Pope Ratzinger I), the papacy will declline in global relevancy to an amazing degree. I blame JP II for this outcome. That man’s intransigence will end up costing us plenty, and him most of his legacy.
The meat of Tom’s complaint is that as Catholicism, and Catholic power generally, increases in the developing and soon-to-be developing worlds (the Seam and the Gap), a Seam or Gap Pope would have been much better for the faith.
TMLutas argues that this is precisely what Benedict XVI allows
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 [of Cardinals, the body that elects the Pope] 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.