mckennaby Dr. Megan McKenna
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

Someone once said that reform can come in one of two ways: shifting around within an existing closed system or shifting the processes of the system so that something that is entirely other can emerge. With the resignation of Benedict XVI, the question of reform in the Church is surfacing yet again. The structures of the Church at the Vatican levels are a tight knit and closed system, especially so when it comes to the transfer of power from one pope to the next. However, the process is not based on anything in the founding years (the first 350-400 years) of the Church. It is a construct of history from the fifth-20th centuries, now “up-dated” with John Paul II’s defining of the process to be followed. It is shrouded in secrecy and the outcome is not indicative of the universal Church as it exists today. To put it very bluntly, the group of electors consists of 117 old men who were chosen by two other old men, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and these old men will elect yet another old man, all clerics.

Even the 117 cardinals and their country of origin reveal a long dead Church geographically. There are 61 of them from Europe alone, with the largest group being from Italy with 21. Latin America has 19, 14 from North America and 11 from both Asia and Africa, with one lone vote from Oceania. And yet in reality the bulk of Catholics (1.2 billion) are from Africa, Asia and Latin America. In regards to gender, geography, age and life-style none of them are reflective of the actual Church, the Body of Christ.

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