NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The idea of Timothy Dolan as the next pope is a product of the American media. We must find an angle to every news story. So news producers and reporters set out to find ‘the American candidate for pope.’ Those who know the Catholic church understand that there will never be an American pope. Our American culture is so awash in materialism that our view of the spiritual world is skewed. The American clergy swims in that same ocean. That’s not where the College of Cardinals goes fishing for the next pontiff.
None of this is to say that Timothy Dolan isn’t a fine Cardinal and an able leader of his flock. But the American media circulating his name drowns out the more important questions surrounding the story. The traditionalists within the Catholic church will be more insistent than ever that one of their own be their next leader. To go more than 25 years without an Italian pope is unheard of. There will be strong arguments that a leader who models traditional catholic values will cause people to look to faith as the secular world seems to spin out of control.
There are other equally strong voices who say a progressive, perhaps from Africa or South America, is the best way to attract new followers to the church. A younger leader, perhaps in his 50s, could solidify the church as a potent force in the developing world.
The debate, which will take place entirely behind closed doors, will be fascinating.