(KPLR) – In Friday's Jacology, Catholics are anxiously waiting to find out who the next pope will be, but Charles Jaco explains why the rest of the world should care too.
There are seven billion people on earth and one billion 200 million of them are Catholics. That's roughly the population of China, 17 percent of all people on the planet. The Pope is their spiritual head. He's also head of state for a sovereign nation, the Vatican. He also heads the Roman Catholic Church, an organization spanning the last two thousand years of human history.
So whether you're catholic or not, the papacy is a big deal.
Pope Benedict the 16th is now Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus. That's a brand-new title in the two millennium history of the Catholic Church. No one's quite sure what it means. For now, it means the former pope will live a monastic life inside the Vatican. That way his security can be guaranteed. It also put him beyond the reach of any German prosecutors who might want to ask him about cover-ups of sexual abuse by priests, back when Ratzinger was a German cardinal.
So what now? This coming week, a hundred and 15 cardinals meet in Rome and lock the doors until they elect a new Pope. Some have speculated Ballwin’s own Father Tim Dolan, now Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York could be the first American Pope. Because of reforms needed following the sexual abuse scandals, others say the next Pope should be a European who knows how the Vatican bureaucracy works. Because the church's most rapid growth in the third world, others say it's time for the first Latin American or African Pope.
This is the first time a Pope has left office alive since 1451. That's forty-one years before Columbus sailed to America. So we're all a little out of practice on how to handle this. Between 900 A.D. and now, six Popes have resigned. Of those six, three have been named Benedict. Here's betting the next Pope will try to select any name but Benedict.
I'm Charles Jaco and that's Jacology.