One hundred and fifteen cardinals donning red hats and capes prayed for the higher power to help them select their next leader today during the papal conclave at the St. Peter's Basilica church in Rome, Italy. Since Pope Benedict XVI stepped down last month, due to his age and weakened health, an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics anxiously wait as the “princes of the Church” begin the balloting process. The new candidate must receive two-thirds of the majority vote in order to be deemed the next pope.
Although a favorite candidate has not been determined as of yet, the selection process has opened up a dialogue about why a Latino pope should be a top contender. With the continued rise of the Latino population and decline of loyal churchgoers, this would be a perfect opportunity for the Vatican to increase their following by the millions in decades to come. Latin America alone makes up for 42 percent of the world’s Catholics, compared to just 25 percent of Europeans. On top of that, a Latin pope would have the ability to address issues that resonate with the majority of our global population including, poverty, hunger, inequality, not just social taboo issues.
Out of the Latin American cardinals whose names have been brought up as possible hopefuls are Brazilian Odilo Scherer, 63, Argentinean Leonardo Sandri, 69, Brazilian Joao Braz de Aviz, 65, and Colombian Ruben Salazar Gomez, 70. However, most of the bureaucracy is made up of European cardinals under the age of 80 who are eligible to vote the next pope in power.
Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, who is the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also acknowledged the strong possibility of the cabinet selecting a Latino to be the next pontiff. “I know a lot of bishops and cardinals from Latin America who could take responsibility for the universal Church,” he said, according to Reuters.
In the meantime, the Cardinals are banned from communicating with the outside world and have been handed four ballots to fill. They will continue their rounds of votes until one candidate receives at least 77 votes.
Would you like to see a Latino pope take power?