New pope-A A +A
Thursday, March 14, 2013
SINCE as far as I can recall, when people talk of having a new pope, it was always about someone from a faraway place. The pope always appeared as someone akin to the wooden images of saints at the church’s altar.
The resignation of Benedict XVI as pope has somehow paved the way for the entry of the Catholic Church into modern times. People on the streets and concerned leaders of the Church talked about the possibility of the new pope coming from areas of the globe that never had a pope.
For while popes come from the rank of priests, those elected had always lived close to Rome.
Popes across the centuries were selected from the cardinals who came from nations of Europe, near Rome or the Vatican. Cardinals who came from the other regions of the world never had a chance of becoming a pope. But that was then.
That was the time when princes of the Church were not affected by the global shift of thought from monarchy to free-wheeling democracy, wherein people who were bred from sidewalks began to think they are equal to those people living in palatial homes.
Political scientists consider that as the period when the so-called masses began to think more seriously of political freedom. It was not a surprise then that when World War II ended, some nations in Asia like the Philippines became independent from foreign domination.
Our country not only won freedom from Japan as a conquered country but also political freedom from being a subject nation. We became a free nation in all aspects of the word. And we celebrate this every June 12, for what it means to our history, and no longer on July 4 as we used to.
On this basis, our faith also underwent similar politicization, from the central core of our Catholic belief. The growing strength of the Christian faith worried independent-minded political leaders leading them to seek protection for their political independence from the Church.
The result was the move to separate the affairs of the Church from that of the State. It should thus not be a surprise to us now that somehow, the papacy, too, had continued to stay within its traditional election of a pope within its area of religious strength.
But it seems this tradition has eroded. For the first time, the College of Cardinals has elected someone from Latin America. And the future may be opened for the election even of a Filipino pope, as in fact, it almost happened with Cardinal Luis Tagle, who was prominently mentioned as possible successor to Benedict XVI.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 15, 2013.