As soon as Pope Benedict XVI was choppered off to his temporary new residence and surroundings at Castel Gandolfo, the College of Cardinals was convened to begin the process in the Papal selection.
Before every Papal conclave which actually selects the new Pope, the College of Cardinals meets to pray, evaluate and discuss the condition and needs of the church.
The College of Cardinals also advises the Pope as he may want or need to convene them on matters of the church but in the selection of a Pope it becomes a matter of determining the state of the church for which a new Pope is to be selected.
For the past three days, the College of Cardinals has been meeting for the latter purpose; the state of the church.
Depending on which church leader you talk to, the state of the Roman Catholic Church is either one of confusion or just simply not good.
To be sure, the internal state of the church is one of struggle, as alluded to by Pope Benedict XVI in his final message in St. Peter’s Square.
There is not just a single division within the church but actual political rivalries and strife.
If this were a major Protestant denomination, this wouldn’t be much of an issue but this is the Roman Catholic Church; the largest organized religious institution in the world.
As stated in my article, “Pope's resignation emits alarming speculation”;
“The Catholic Church like all Christian churches throughout the world has seen a major decline in attendance, baptisms, converts and subsequent new members.”
“The church has also had an increasing problem with recruiting new deacons, priest and nuns.”
Almost like the GOP trying to figure out why they lost the 2012 United States Presidential election, the various leadership and organizations within the Roman Catholic Church vie for their voice to be heard on why they think the church continues a downward spiral in growth and clerical recruitment.
As a result this current College of Cardinals struggles with the issues of morality such as gay rights, gay marriage, birth control, celibacy and much more; not to mention the many rumors concerning financial corruption.
Most of these are issues the church has dealt with for centuries but with the increase of Hedonism, Islam and the rise of cultism competing for the souls of humanity, the church has to literally fight for every current member and potential convert out there.
In short, the need to find a quick solution for the churches downward spiral is not an easy one.
The reality is that the church has much to consider if the church is to survive.
With all due respect to Pope Benedict XVI, the church might survive no matter the conflict but what condition will the church be in to reach out to a hurting world? Will it also be the church God truly wants?
There is also the matter of the church's financial well being.
For the church to survive it also takes money to be sure and it is no secret that the Roman Catholic Church is not only the wealthiest religious institution in the world, it also wants to stay that way. The church is also one of the wealthiest businesses with investments and financial diversities in everything from hospitals, universities, observatories and untold holdings in private and public corporations, banks, art and real estate across the globe.
Most historians make no secret over the fact that what made it possible for the church to acquire such wealth was the result of financial corruption and the process of money laundering for many loyal Catholics attached to various criminal elements.
There has been much speculation that Pope John Paul I was actually poisoned by such an element and the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II as well, due to certain statements these previous Popes had made about ending such financial corruption within the church.
No one knows specifically if either was successful but there is speculation that Pope John Paul II had limited success which was carried on by Pope Benedict XVI.
There are some who believe it is this potential for the church returning to an association with financial corruption and the criminal element that led to Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign as Pope.
The decrease in financial contributions from local parishes with reduced attendance has given rise to concern by many of the Church leadership that a return to the “old ways” financially might be a way back to a strong and vigorous financial future.
In other words, "let's not be judgmental of who is making the contributions".
The old saying however, that the Roman Catholic Church has more money than God remains true; so don’t think for a moment the church is running out of money because they are not.
Unfortunately religious organizations do not open their books completely but some experts have speculated (and I emphasize speculated) that even if the church were to sell off or just get rid of half of their property and assets globally, they would still be at least twice as wealthy as the next three religious contenders combined; The Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ, Islam and The Southern Baptist Convention.
We must also not forget that the Vatican is its own nation with diplomats, police, Swiss Guard and many even speculate its own intelligence bureau.
As a result, there has been some political discussion of recent within the Italian government as to what role if any the Vatican should play in financial contributions to Italy with the same discussions on going within the city of Rome.
Needless to say, one would think the mere fact that the Vatican lies in the middle of Rome generating millions if not billions of Euros every year for Rome and the Italian government from tourism would be enough of a financial contribution but many think more is needed.
Believe it or not, these are but a few of the issues the College of Cardinals must address before the Papal conclave begins.
There are also the matters of Theology, Liturgy and official church doctrine as well; all topics too lengthy for any discussion here.
Regardless if the next Pope is the last Pope, he will certainly have his hands full.
© 2013 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III