Saturday 3 December 2016

Wanted: an elderly white male

It's the cardinals' call which means the new Pope will most likely be of European origin, writes Colum Kenny

Published 17/02/2013 | 04:00

Of the 118 cardinals who are eligible to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, 28 are Italian while only 11 come from Africa and another 11 from Asia
Of the 118 cardinals who are eligible to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, 28 are Italian while only 11 come from Africa and another 11 from Asia

ANYONE really "shocked" to hear that Pope Benedict had stepped down needs to get a life. Surprised, perhaps. But "shocked"? The word was flung about last week as if Catholics could not get out of bed because of it all.

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Not to worry. There will soon be another Pope, and he too is likely to be an elderly, white guy. He will be appointed by a College of Cardinals who are best known for their unimaginative orthodoxy. Most of them got their red hats from Benedict or from his conservative predecessor, John Paul II.

What would be a shock is if they decided to shake up Rome by appointing an outsider. They don't even have to pick a cardinal. Astonishingly, the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia states, "A layman may also be elected Pope, as was Celestine V (1294). Even the election of a married man would not be invalid. Of course, the election of a heretic, schismatic, or female would be null and void".

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