What Would an American Pope Mean?

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Boston media is abuzz with speculation that the city’s own Cardinal Sean O’Malley might be a contender for the papacy. Although opinions vary on his chances – he’s been called the frontrunner by some, a long shot by others – the possibility of an American pope raises many issues, even for non-Catholics.
The papal selection story would normally be of little importance for humanists and other nonbelievers, but obviously an American pope could have an impact far beyond Catholic life and religious doctrine. Questions and issues would be numerous. Would an American in the Vatican ignite a religious revival of sorts in the United States (which is already one of the most religious developed countries), and how would that affect public policy? How would Protestants, and specifically the Religious Right, react to an American pontiff? Since church leaders are always vocal in condemning secularism, would this new pope be a resource for the anti-secular forces in his homeland?

There can be little doubt that an American papacy would result in a surge of energy for American Catholicism. Many local parishes would be filled for at least a few Sundays, as long-absent nominal Catholics return to the pews to participate in the victory celebration. Bill Donohue, the always camera-ready Catholic League president, would be booked solid for awhile, as news anchors wait in line for his insight and analysis. And this surge in American Catholicism would most likely result in a surge in church revenue, as the relatively wealthy American flock, appreciating its newfound connection to Rome, opens its checkbooks more generously.

The real question, however, is whether the energy would last, and whether an American pontiff would have a long-term impact on American society. Would Catholic theology suddenly be seen as more relevant in the lives of America’s Catholics, many of whom haven’t practiced in years? Would the church as an institution find renewed legitimacy in the social/political arena?

Written By: Dave Niose
continue to source article at psychologytoday.com

31 COMMENTS

  1. The right to bear arms for all catholics, NRA office in the vatican, McDonald’s and Starbucks franchises in evert rc church, commercial breaks mid sermon, jumbo size crackers at communion, coke instead of wine at communion, sponsors logos on the pointy hats…………they could really make money then.

  2. This article was a wasted opportunity. It limited its analysis to what Americans would think of the pope sharing their nationality. But O’Malley being Pope would have plenty of implications beyond that. If only his stances compared to other cardinals (including Ratzinger) had been discussed, this article would have dealt with how his being pope would really matter – what policies would be enacted, what Catholicism would do next. But it was not to be. Does anyone here know how any of the candidates differ on anything?

    • In reply to #9 by Jos Gibbons

      Does anyone here know how any of the candidates differ on anything?

      As far as the scuttlebutt in the media over the last 5 yrs…it seems Ratty stacked the odds in the favour of conservative brain dead and deluded theological clone to take up the papacy…around half of the Cardinals choosing a pontiff were actually chosen and promoted by Ratty…for a reason and not for an ability!

      Benny wants the church to lurch back to mediaeval practice, and what ‘god’s little Rottweiler’ wants usually gets!

      Just like Ratty!…So meet the new boss same as the old boss!

      It is unclear if any cardinal would actually address the traditional perversion in the cult, seems highly improbable seeing as that is obviously seen as a bonus and right.

      So pretty much bizzyness’ as usual.

    • In reply to #9 by Jos Gibbons:

      This article was a wasted opportunity. It limited its analysis to what Americans would think of the pope sharing their nationality. But O’Malley being Pope would have plenty of implications beyond that. If only his stances compared to other cardinals (including Ratzinger) had been discussed, this article would have dealt with how his being pope would really matter – what policies would be enacted, what Catholicism would do next. But it was not to be. Does anyone here know how any of the candidates differ on anything?

      The only way to climb the greasy pole in the RCC is to unquestioningly embrace existing dogma. Any priest who too openly deviates from ‘the true faith’ will be filtered out long before he has any chance of becoming an archbishop. Therefore the only significant difference between the candidates will be that they have different parents.

      It doesn’t matter who becomes pope, they will continue to espouse the same discredited dogma which is driving away the more sensible of their sheep (after a brief up-tick following his promotion)

  3. Haven’t most popes been multilingual? Given the rarity of Americans (other than immigrants) being proficient in any second (let alone a third) language, I think it would mean political business being conducted in English and the mass in Latin with an atrocious American accent.

  4. @OP The real question, however, is whether the energy would last,

    Speaking of energy –
    Did you hear the one about the irrational cardinals who installed jamming devices, to prevent communication (into or outside of the room), with any material systems using electrical circuitry (brains??), – locked the doors to prevent any messengers or notes coming in or out, – and then prayed for guidance in selecting the new pope!

    • In reply to #15 by PERSON:

      The purges of non-conservative RC hierarchy and the rejection of Vatican II go back at least to JPII, well before Ratzinger.

      Pope John Paul II was Benedict XVI’s immediate predecessor. During the former’s pontificate the latter, known as Cardinal Joseph Archbishop Ratzinger, was, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, responsible for the consistent policy of “reinterpreting” the Second Vatican Council to bring the Catholic Church back to the traditional mould that the Council had sought to free the Church from, and of taking action against theologians and pastors who were judged to be undermining traditional church teaching. It was during this time that Ratzinger gained the nickname ‘God’s rottweiler’. John Paul II was of a conservative bent himself, but his thought was much more free-ranging than Ratzinger’s and not so attached to doctrinal particulars and uncompromising stances. It was Ratzinger who steered the Pope towards the reactionary policies that have gradually but firmly returned the Catholic Church to the format of Trent and Vatican I (basically the Church of the Counter-Reformation). Ratzinger, after all, was the professional theologian, whereas the Pope was merely a philosopher, poet and former thespian.

  5. I expect that the News Media will spend a few $m on free publicity for an all American Pope. Here in the UK we are already sick of the BBC’s 24 hour coverage of the conclave. Catholics are a tiny minority cult in the UK, I don’t know any! Atheists out number Catholics by a massive margin – but the BBC never mentions them.. All we get is BBC corespondents talking in hushed reverence at the bizarre rituals of the conclave. They have even launched an on-line “Virtual Sistine Chapel” paid for by Atheist licence holders. What chance of the BBC presenting an Atheist view of the farce at the Vatican – non whatever, even though we pay for the BBC!!!

    • Not sure I agree with your numbers. There are between 3 – 5 million people who self identify as catholic in the UK depending on what criteria you use (if you count polish immigrants for example). I’m not sure how your personal experiences inform the debate. I was raised catholic and therefore know lots of Catholics but so what? Atheists probably do outweigh Catholics in the UK but not by a massive margin.

      I totally agree with all your other points though. The BBC has been engaging in a horrible ecumenical two step treating the whole thing in the same hideously sycophantic manner it does its royal coverage (‘Isn’t pomp and tradition wonderful’).
      I have stopped watching news24 until its all over. I snapped when one correspondent said that the cardinals were getting guidance from past popes and saints going right back to Abraham and Moses.

      In reply to #16 by SteveR:

      I expect that the News Media will spend a few $m on free publicity for an all American Pope. Here in the UK we are already sick of the BBC’s 24 hour coverage of the conclave. Catholics are a tiny minority cult in the UK, I don’t know any! Atheists out number Catholics by a massive margin – but the BBC never mentions them.. All we get is BBC corespondents talking in hushed reverence at the bizarre rituals of the conclave. They have even launched an on-line “Virtual Sistine Chapel” paid for by Atheist licence holders. What chance of the BBC presenting an Atheist view of the farce at the Vatican – non whatever, even though we pay for the BBC!!!

  6. What Would an American Pope Mean?

    that we’re living in a frighteningly backward global society that actually takes notice of a group of old men playing wizards without calling for social services to come check up on them and make sure they get some hot food and stop scaring the shoppers with their insane witterng?

    just a guess, sorry didn’t read after that

  7. Here’s one of the greater issues: In 1810, Senator Philip Reed of Maryland proposed an amendment to the constitution that would require any American who received a title of nobility or honor from a foreign government without Congressional consent to relinquish their citizenship. This was called The Titles of Nobility Amendment and failed to be ratified at the time of its proposal.

    Question: Would Congress allow an American to become the head of a nation-state and still retain their American citizenship?

    I could see freethinkers in the United States resurrecting the push for such an amendment in this case.

  8. I had a debate with my brother recently about the propsect of a European pope vs one from Africa or Latin America. He said that, since Catholicism is on the wane in Europe but going strong in Africa and Latin America, the cardinals are more likely to elect a pop from Africa or Latin America. I thought it would work the other way – Africa and Latin America are “in the bag”, whereas it’s in Europe where the rot needs to be stopped (from the point of view of the Vatican). I think it can be argued both ways. In any event, you might think that this sort of consideration could sway the decision.

    Bringing in the possibility of an American pope, we’ve seen plenty recently to suggest that religiosity in the US is on the decline. The US is still very influential around the world, and if the US becomes less religious then other countries may follow the trend for one reason or another. The cardinals might feel that an American pope would help to shore up the waning US side of things…

  9. In reply to #27 by nancynancy:

    In reply to #3 by Mister T:

    In reply to #1 by mmurray:

    For a minute I thought Dan Dennett had been made Pope.

    Haha, I had exactly the same reaction.

    It’s not Dan Denett,

    Now there’s an opportunity for radical reform of the RCC ! – If only a swap can be arranged!!

    BTW:- If Dan Dennet cannot make it, the photo also bears an uncanny resemblance to ME ! (Apart from the fancy dress!)

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