Thursday, February 21, 2013

An American Pope: Devil's Advocate

Just a quick note about the logic that there shouldn't be an American Pope because they don't want to have a Superpower Pope.

The Cardinals may think that way, but if they do they are stupid.

There's nothing wrong with having a Superpower Pope, really. For much of history (whether it was imperial Rome or late-medieval France) we had Superpower Popes.

The Pope should not be reduced to the status of something like the Secretary General of the United Nations, a token post of "diversity" that does nothing to actually balance the Superpower status of the United States, an impotent humanitarian figurehead. Yet this is what I feel like another European or Third World Pope will be: basically like the Secretary General of the UN.

Whereas a Superpower Pope would be able to muster the significant resources, the wealth and power, of the American Church. At the same time, he would, precisely because he was an American, be able to stand up to the force of American Imperialism and US hegemony and the federal government and such. Can you imagine if there were an American holding an office comparable to the US presidency in prestige? I don't think we should assume they'd be in bed with each other, I think we should assume they'd be at loggerheads and serve as a "check and balance" on each other. An American Secretary General might be in the pocket of an American agenda; I don't think the same thing would be true about a Pope.

Personally, I'd really like to see O'Malley actually, though I'm not betting it will happen.

But having a Pope from the current Imperial Core makes perfect sense to me, as far as conniving political considerations go. As goes America, so goes the world. America already exports Coke and McDonald's to the whole world. It also exports Christianity, but currently of an evangelical variety mainly. It might not hurt to try to muster some of that influence for our side.

I feel like an American Pope is the only sort of Pope that, say, the suits in Washington could ever really respect as opposed to just patronizing. Of course, a Saint shouldn't want worldly respect, but do we want a Saint, or do we want a Pope?! 

And I also feel like only an American could be as bullheaded as needed to clean things up, sometimes. Not that the bullheadedness would be totally good; I'm sure there would be many brash and indelicate and overly politicized actions of an American Pope that would leave me cringing or rolling my eyes. But at a certain point in history maybe you need some of that to balance the timidity we've too often seen.

It may well not happen. The conventional wisdom may be "correct." But it's stupid. Someone from the The Belly of the Beast could be just what we need.

4 comments:

Nominally Catholic said...

Don't you think that Pope Benedict XVI has been grooming Cardinal Burke for just that role? I mean, he is kinda the second most powerful man in Rome at the moment. They've "Italianized" him at this point, lol. It's no secret that old Benny was groomed into being pope even though he "hesitated." Levada is out as CDF Emeritus. Dolan looks good in New York. Think of the publicity a Pope like him could get come his Papal election at Easter...let's pray for the Cardinals to be wise and choose wisely.

Jordan MZ said...

The informal "no Americans" rule is in place for everyone's well being, Americans and otherwise.

1) His Holiness is not only the Vicar of Christ but also the Bishop of Rome (okay, a cardinal vicar apostolic is really the guy who answers the phones at the Lateran, but whatever.) How many American cardinals speak fluent Italian? Popes just don't jet around the world. They also make frequent episcopal visits around the Roman diocese.

2) American Catholics have been in the pickling pot with evangelicalism for too long, and this shows with the American hierarchy's approach to politics. In Rome, it's more "art of the deal" than "just pull the 'R' lever". Heck, JP II gave Holy Communion to the head of the Italian Communist Party (perhaps more than once!)

3) Cdl. Burke, you need to work your drag, girl! Silk buskins? That was like so early modern. Ru better give you a makeover for the conclave. Fierce!

A Sinner said...

Today Cardinal Wuerl said an American would be an "unwise" choice because sometimes Popes need to "speak a spiritual challenge, even to America."

I have NO IDEA why people assume that an American Pope would not speak a challenge to America. Why do we assume an America would "go soft on" America or would be pro-American??

One of the best things about America is that we know how to critique our own country and have a proud tradition of it. Many of the loudest critics of American Imperialism...are American! I have no idea why Wuerl (who is himself American!) would assume an American couldn't challenge America. If he knows it needs to be done, surely he could do it? Why assume an American Pope would, merely on account of his nationality, "favor" America somehow or be pro-America??

Perhaps, rather, he'd be an Ambrose of Milan who would excommunicate Theodosius for his offenses, as it were. I'd think having another American would make it EASIER for the man to critique the American Empire "with teeth," not harder.

A Sinner said...

When it's just some Chinaman at the head of the UN critiquing America (or any other country really), that actually makes it easier for Americans to dismiss the critique because, heck, he's from a rival country anyway.

But if you had an American Pope, I assume he (unlike a foreigner) would actually be able to DIVIDE THE LOYALTIES of Americans INTERNALLY and thus be an ACTUAL threat to the imperial policies of the federal government, the power of our Presidemperor, etc etc.