A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Next Pope Will Not Be a Protestant

It has been interesting to read the reflections of many Protestants concerning the news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation from the papacy. There's been some insightful commentary and some not so profound. This is to be expected in commentary on all matters. But what has really been of interest to me is some of the reflections offered by Protestants on what kind of pope they are hoping for with Benedict's successor. This is understandable. The pope is the leader of the global Catholic Church. Protestants certainly should care who the next pope will be. But I must also say that the wish list put forward by some non-Catholic commentators makes me wonder if they really understand Catholicism in their unspoken and unacknowledged hope that the next pontiff will lead the Catholic Church toward a more Protestant "look."

So let me offer some thoughts concerning what the next pope will not be.

First, the next pope will not be a mainline Protestant. The next pope will oppose contraception, abortion, gay marriage, women priests, and all sexual activity outside the covenant of marriage. For those who hope otherwise understand that you do not have hope as much as unrealistic wishful thinking. The Catholic Church has taken positions in opposition to these issues for many centuries. It's not about to change in the near future.

Second, but neither will the pope be a neo-con Republican. Just like his two immediate predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II, he will remind the governments of the world that they do have a responsibility to the poor and those who live on the margins. He will oppose capital punishment, and while he will criticize Communist governments for their suppression of individual rights and freedoms, he will also warn of the dangers of unfettered capitalism. Moreover, he will oppose any war that does not meet the criteria of the just war tradition just as Benedict and John Paul protested against the Iraq War on the same grounds.

That does not mean that the next pope will not be a reformer, but it must always be remembered that what reformation truly entails is often in the eye of the beholder. But, needless to say the next pope will not bring the kind of "reforms" that will make the Catholic Church look more Protestant, mainline or otherwise.

Who will be the next pope? I have no idea, but I think it is safe to say that he will not come from the ranks of the world's Protestant bishops.

I know that seems obvious, but after my last couple of days of reading the thoughts of some, I just felt the need to say it.


Dennis Sanders said...

Thanks for sharing this, Allan. I've seen some of the same commentary on how people hope the next Pope would be some mainline Protestant. My thought to that line of thinking is "You don't really now Catholicism, do you?"

And I also am glad you shared the Pope ain't gonna be a Republican either. Honestly, the Pope is probably the closest example of what it means to be political in the religious sense.

Patrick said...

Non Catholic here, I am hoping for their sake the next Pope can eschew the "celibate priest" idea at least, IF the molestation stuff continues I fear it is deconstructing their church and growing the atheist side with apostate believers.

Beyond that, I cannot help but note that the description above of a "political in the religious sense" view leads us to vote for folks who are Malthusians here in the USA.

When we want Caesar to be God's agency here as opposed to us as a church, we get murderous results.

The US political right has their own set of problems, killing our own unborn isn't one of them.

Both sides have extreme evil in them and the sooner we figure out Caesar is not God's agent for anything but law enforcement, sooner we're drawing near to God, IMO.