Barnett Reconsidering Benedict XVI?

Checking Barnett,” by TMLutas, Flit(tm), 24 April 2005, (from Thomas PM Barnett).

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.

Well said.

One thought on “Barnett Reconsidering Benedict XVI?”

  1. Stumbled along via Simon world and figured if I was going to leave one contrary comment, I'd leave another. I doubt we will see any more non European or American cardinals anytime soon with Ratzinger as Pope. An important reason is that despite the low zeal in Catholicism in the Old World, wealthy European and American donors are still responsible for much of the Catholic Church's funding. A major job of a cardinal is not only to administer to the faithful but to oversee the bureaucratic affairs of the Church which includes finances. Third world cardinals have third world constituents. A non-European pope along with non-European cardinals could seriously dry up the Church's assets.

  2. Thanks for the comments. I appreciate them

    It's fair to say that a disproportionate share of the Church's funding comes from the “secular” west. But I'm not sure this is an argument against a Second of Third World pope. Just as more conservative churches in the United States have flourished more than liberal ones, I would imagine that more conservative churches in the US fundraise more than others.

    A Seam or Gap Pope would be closer to these contributors' views than a typical European Cardinal.

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