Popes, Politics, and Players

It's with great joy that we can welcome John Paul's exit from the hospital; whatever one's position on his continuing papacy, the health of a very sick older man should be celebrated.

One question I'm often asked, as somebody who professionally works on a good number of ecclesiological issues and questions of ecclesial authority within the R.C. church, is why the Vatican "just doesn't seem to get it." I'm someone who disagrees on the Vatican on some issues, and thinks that the primary problem is that the Petrine ministry's vocation of fostering unity seems to clash so often with the current pope's desire to take stands all of the time on open theological questions....but that's for another post. It's truly important, however, to realize that the Catholic Church in the U.S., while a major, and appreciated, financial backer of the Vatican (see Dr. John Pollard of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in his new book Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy), the United States is not the center of the Roman Catholic world...nor is Rome, in some ways, since the concerns and needs of so many different parts of the church in the world proclude Rome, sometimes despite its best efforts, from exercising centrality in anything more than a coordinative sense. John Allen, of the National Catholic Reporter, has a very good article in this month's Boston College Magazine entitled "Discovering America" which details the ambiguity and complexity of the American-Vatican relationship these days. He gets to answer the "why doesn't Rome get it" question far more often than I do, so it's no surprise that his answer is better. .

If you're looking to transfer your Vaticanista knowledge into more practical results, try betting on the next occupant of Peter's chair on Paddypower.com, an Irish online betting site. (You'll need to find a friend outside of the U.S. to place the actual bet, since it's still illegal here.) My money (literally) is on Óscar Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras...for reasons that I'll explain in a later post.

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