In my last column, I reviewed the Papacy of Benedict XVI, noting that he was right on economics and the fact that it should not influence fecundity and wrong on the tyranny of relativism, of which he was an unwitting practitioner by letting authority trump the better argument in natural law discussions.
In this part, I will speculate on the next pope, Peter the Roman. In predicting popes, one must be aware of the fact that, whether the papal prophesies of St. Malachy are true or not (and they look pretty accurate to me), they are accepted as true by many in the Vatican. Here is what they say about the next papacy:
In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit [i.e., as bishop]. Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills [i.e. Rome] will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End. (from Wikipedia)
Likewise, the Third Secret of Fatima, while applied to Blessed John Paul II, seem more applicable to Peter the Roman. Again, from Wiki:
Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.
While many thought this to be the end of time (and some still do), it will more likely have to do with either natural disaster or Italy going the way of Greece. I suspect that no one who goes into the conclave will want the job.
Many bloggers in the Catholic world are also wondering whether the next pope will be a pastor, a reformer or an administrator. I am not sure there is a difference between the three things, especially if there is a mess to clean up. There is also an open agenda on healing relations with the Eastern Church.
I suspect that the recent pope made headway in that direction that Peter will finish, including the creation of more linguistic or nationally based patriarchies within the Western Church. That would allow the satisfactory settling some of our most controversial problems on a linguistic or national Church basis, from women's ordination to gay marriage to ordaining gay women. Individual Churches can go as fast or as slow as they wish. A national or linguistic Church will also remove the Protestant exception to an overreaching papacy, leading to more unity in Christendom within nations and the opportunity for the Church in America to do more in the educational and social service realms than it already does with more direct taxpayer support.
In other words, the next pope must be willing to step on some toes.
If Peter shares the belief that Rome will be destroyed, or sees it happening, he might also do the right thing and give in on the question of liability for individual bishops who looked the other way as clergy molested our youth. In this case, the right thing would be to sell off much, if not all, of the art in Vatican City. When Rome is a ruin, it will be gone, so it would be best to have it not go to waste.
In other words, Peter will be the kind of pontiff who does what is necessary.
I know just the guy. Although he is not a Cardinal, I don't believe any Cardinal wants the job. There is a bishop, in Washington, DC (making this a local story) who is here because he did in fact take on a financial scandal in the Vatican and did the right thing. He is none other than our own Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Mario Vigano'. May God have mercy on his soul.