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Thursday, August 28, 2014 | Last updated: 6:13pm

With strong Catholic US, American pope makes sense



With Pope Benedict XVI’s unexpected decision to resign, Roman Catholics are left wondering: Did the pope quit on us?

No.

Benedict is fulfilling his life mission of serving the “simple faithful.” In his statement on Monday, the pope said he is convinced that he is no longer able to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to him and he believes we all deserve someone better.

Years will pass before Benedict’s reign can be accurately assessed, but one thing is certain: Benedict has bowed off the world’s stage with full humility. Love him or hate him, his legacy is one driven by his convictions.

The next pope will have the daunting task of crafting the Roman Catholic Church’s role in an ever-changing world.

For starters, Europe is in shambles with no plan in place for its survival as a civilization. This reality has plagued the pontiffs of the 20th and 21st centuries and the problem will undoubtedly reach a climax during the reign of the next pope, with help from the continent’s unsustainable birth rates.

Who even attends Mass anymore? In some parts of Europe, particularly in the west, only 3-4 percent of Catholics attend Sunday Mass. In contrast, the Church is stronger than ever in Third World countries. In Africa alone, the number of baptized Catholics has roughly tripled in the last thirty years.

The election of a charismatic and well-educated African pontiff would offer Africans the shot at a geopolitical voice, similar to how John Paul II’s collaboration with the Solidarity movement brought about the liberation of the Polish people.

However, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, 24 percent of U.S. Catholics observed the Sunday obligation weekly in 2012, a number that could make the U.S. the Church’s battleground in the 21st century.

A U.S. pope exactly what the Church needs — and soon.

With faith in Europe in freefall, Christianity spreading like wildfire in Africa and the U.S. positioned as the land of a cultural showdown, I want the white smoke to bring news of a U.S. cardinal, one who knows the ropes of the Roman Curia but has the history of the U.S. in his heart.

A U.S. pope would be able to understand how best to approach the different moral controversies the Church currently finds herself tangled in here at home.

A U.S. pope would also have the most power to push the Church in a new direction. With recent legislation like the Department of Health and Human Services mandate and the San Francisco city and county board’s condemnation of Catholicism, there’s a blank slot in the playbill of the 21st century with these words underneath: “First Holy Father from the U.S.”

—Stephanie Zawada is a chemistry and pre-business sophomore, she can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on twitter via @WildcatOpinions


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