By Solomon Shapiro
In recent news, there has been a great focus on the Roman Catholic Church. Thousands of reporters have flocked to Vatican City to witness first-hand the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. This event has gained the large amount of attention because Pope Benedict XVI is the first Pope in over 600 years to step down, the last being Pope Gregory XII in 1415. There were many proposed theories as to why the Pope is stepping down, but all of those theories were disproven when Pope Benedict XVI explained that the reason he is stepping down is because of “advanced age”. The Pope explained how due to his age, he does not deem himself fit to lead. The fact that the Pope is able to identify that he must step down, without being pressured by those around him, has gained him respect and praise in the religious community.
But alas, as one Pope leaves, another must come into power, which brings on the challenge of picking a new Pope. The process of choosing the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church is a long and tedious one. The Pope is considered to be one of the most powerful men in the world, so to pick the new one, 142 “princes of the church” (Cardinals) have gathered in Vatican City, in order to start the process of picking a new Pope. These meetings are known as “the conclave”. The three front-runners at the moment are Cardinal Angelo Scola, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, and Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. One of the issues the Cardinals are concerned with the public’s demand for the new Pope to have a zero tolerance policy with regards to the abuse of children within the church. Only Cardinals under the age of 80 are going to be allowed to vote, which means that only 115 of the Cardinals will be responsible for selecting the new Pope, while the other 27 Cardinals under 80 years of age, are just there to observe. This is a process that is going to take some time. In an interview, German Cardinal Walter Kasper told German Daily, “A papal election is not something you should rush”.