The Next Pope

What to look for in the next pontiff.

Issue: Winter 2003-2004

THE END IS near. Before long, the College of Cardinals will have to elect a successor to Pope John Paul II. His will be a tough act to follow. To begin with, the new man on Saint Peter's throne must be able to preach the Christian social ethic without succumbing to the lure of radical liberation theology. In other words, he will be expected to do what is theologically imperative yet stay clear of left-wing clericalism. This quality is all the more essential if one considers these demographic projections: By 2025, some 2.6 billion people in the world will be Christians of all stripes. Of these, 67 percent (and about 75 percent of Roman Catholics) will live in Africa, Latin America and Asia, according to Philip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom.1 These are precisely the continents where Christianity has been experiencing a relentless growth--and where poverty still abounds.

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