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Can the New Pope Be an American?

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The Washington Post published the article on March 2, 2013, written by Michelle Boorstein on the recent highly buzzing news of papal election. In this article, the author talks about possibility of the American cardinals getting elected as a pope and the factors which can affect their chances. The main purpose of this coursework paper is to analyze this article based on the sociological concepts.

The article stated that, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a historian,Twitterati and the leader of the American bishops and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, Spanish-speaking Capuchin friar who has established extensive sexual abuse policy in the Roman Catholic Church - are two big names which are in the race for future pope. Other influential American contenders include former St. Louis archbishop Raymond Burke, who heads the Vatican’s supreme court; William Levada, a former San Francisco archbishop who followed Benedict as head of the Vatican’s doctrine-guarding office; and Washington’s Donald Wuerl, whom Benedict tapped as a leader of the church’s “new evangelization” outreach effort. It is the first time an American has ever been seriously considered as the future pope. America’s contrast image compare to extreme spiritual and ritualized Vatican is the main reason behind the neglection of an American for the papacy. Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo, who runs continuing theological education at the Pontifical North American College of Rome expressed that the American cardinals are very much aware of the social and the moral issues which are widely affecting today’s society and they can competently handle the challenges facing the church. Even prominent Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli of Italian newspaper La Stampa, has suggested that O’Malley can be surprise selection in case of vote gridlock. However, there are few groups which are against of the idea of an American pope. Soledad Loaeza, an expert on church-state relations in Mexico, has strongly opposed to the selection of an American for papacy by pointing to the recent sex-abuse scandal. Russell Shaw, a former spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also rejected any possibility of an American pope. According to him, an America is still in raw phase of spirituality and its image on the global platform is not beneficial to the church. (Boorstein,2013)

Cultural norms in the America are significantly different compare to the outer world. An American society is based on diverse cultural aspects which are highly influenced by global politics, economical power and some immoral sides of television and cinema. In contrast, Vatican represents strict ethical and religious cultural norms. An America has open multiculturalism and liberal society. 

The America is a global superpower and has protective approach for issues like income inequality and religious freedom. Such problems are merely important for an America. Such perceptions about an America arise in the outer world, mainly because of cultural norms differences. Our perspective about other culture’s morality based on our own ethical values, so every judgment about ethics or right and wrong is a product of the own culture. The cultural relativism has emphasized that person can not judge the morals of other societies using the ethical norms of their own culture, and that each culture must be analyzed on its own terms.Therefore, the discrimination while judging an American candidate’s capability on the perception of the other countries and their cultural standards is totally wrong. (Henslin,2012,p.39,46)

The surprise nomination of Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston can assume as the first step towards the social revolution. According to the Rev. Jonathan Morris, program director of Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel, the church is facing particularly tough time in terms of recent sex-abuse controversy and people’s changing attitude towards the religion. The American cardinals have done remarkable job in handling these issues. They include education programs in parishes, background checks and a policy of removing any priest with substantiated claims against him. Such revolutionary steps are helping to wash the stains from the church’s holy image. (Boorstein,2013).

Dolan and O’Malley differ significantly in style and personality; however, both grew up under Pope John Paul II. Socialism is main characteristics similarity of them. Dolan has maintained personal relation with his fellow congregants. These days, the Church needs young culture and frank communication with society. Dolan and O’Malley’s social behavior can be favorable to the church to maintain belief in Catholicism in the world.

According to Henslin,(2012,p.56),Values and their supporting beliefs are lenses through which we see the world. The view they produce is often of what life ought to be like, not what it is. Visualizing an American pope has become hard thing to the world. Mainly because of vast difference in culture norms and ethics set by Vatican and an American society.

The influence of religion is more direct on our society. It plays big role in developing individual’s personality. The learning of doctrine, values and morality helps in creating peaceful society. Therefore, the great leaders of religious system can bring new revolution in the world. (Henslin,2012,p.82)

The majority of the groups in the world are against the idea of an American pope. They are suspicious of an American power and its capability to represent such important role. But, the church has to adopt with modern changes and hold up with young generation. Even after so much opposition and rare chance, selection of an American pope can be start of the new era in changing face of orthodox behavior of the church.

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