What will the new pope bring to the table?

In the very near future, the College of the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church will convene inside of the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope.

This process, known as the papal conclave, will produce the next successor in the line of St. Peter, the Apostle and first pope.

The universal presence of the Catholic Church and the recent resignation of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and the upcoming conclave has provided a new opportunity for people to talk about all things Catholic.

The hot-button issues include popular qualifications for the next pope and the desire of some that the Church alter its doctrine.

The common theme in each of these is selfishness.Secular culture wants a Church and a new pope that condones the way it wants to live, as opposed to a Church and a pope that upholds moral truth and sacred tradition.

In an article written this past week for the Houston Chronicle, Kristan Doerfler references the idea of “Build-a-Pope,” predicting the chaos that would arise if the Church teachings came down to a matter of public opinion.

In looking for trademark qualities in the next pope, she references the book of Matthew, when Peter explicitly proclaims that Jesus “is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

Peter as the first pope, possessed God-given grace to proclaim who Jesus really was. It was because of this why Jesus bestowed on him the responsibility of leading the Church.

As Doerfler said, the next pope must be a man “who sees who Jesus really is and will answer the question boldly when all his peers are confused.”

This is the current state of affairs for some in the Church.People still desire the truth, but they have become so convinced that they can acquire it of their own capabilities and begin to reject the Church.

Throughout its 2000-year history, the Church has dealt with scandals of its own.

No matter the evils threaten the Church, Catholics believe God’s providential hand will continually guide the Church towards its ultimate end.In spite of its problems, the faithful should remain confident in the promise that Jesus gave to Peter regarding the Church, that “the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

The Church is filled with human beings, not perfectionists.

As human beings all members of the Church, even its leaders, will sin and, as Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “come short of the glory of God.”

This is where the Messiah steps in. According to Christian tradition, God sent his son Jesus to came and abolish both sin and death, so that all those who are truly contrite and repentant might have access to heaven.

As part of his mission, Jesus established his body, the Church.He built it upon the rock of the faith of St. Peter, so that all generations might hear the unwavering truth as a defense against cultural relativism.

Ultimately, as Doerfler reflects, humanity does not need a pope trying to win a popularity contest.

We need a pope to “preach the messages of Christ," even if it's not what we most want to hear.


Reach the columnist at mrrich2@asu.edu or follow him at @cshmneyrichard


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