|Douglas Burns wrote up Harkin's recent remarks on a conference call for Des Moines' Cityview weekly.
U.S. Sen.. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, a Catholic who graduated from Des Moines Dowling Catholic High School and Catholic University Law School in Washington, D.C., said the church should consider a Latino pope as a successor for Pope Benedict XVI who announced last Monday that he will resign effective Feb. 28, setting up a papal conclave for March.
"I think it would be a great move in the right direction," Harkin said of the prospects of a Latino pope.
Harkin's remarks came during a conference call with Cityview and other media.
"I think it would send a strong signal to the rest of the world," Harkin said. "I think it would give a new face to the church to do something like that."
At least two cardinals from Latin America may be considered at the conclave: Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina and Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras.
Being Jewish, I don't have a stake in who becomes the next pope. But since Catholics in Latin America outnumber European Catholics, and the majority of American Catholics will be Latino before long, I think it would make sense for the cardinals to select the first Latino pope.
According to a Pew Research Center survey, "About 60 percent of Catholics in the United States believe that the next pope should come from a developing region of the world such as South America, Asia or Africa." Only about a quarter of the world's Catholics live in Europe.
Harkin told reporters on the conference call that the pope of his lifetime he most admires is Pope John XXIII, best known for calling the Second Vatican Council.
"He opened up the doors and really moved the church forward," Harkin said. "Since that time, the windows seem to be getting closed again. So I think we need to again revive the spirit of Pope John XXIII, open up the church more, and don't be afraid of a proliferation of different views and ideas. I never did buy the idea that it was going to get stronger by becoming more narrow and demanding more orthodoxy."
Robert P. Jones wrote an interesting piece for the Washington Post on what American Catholics want from the new pope.
American Catholics are divided on whether the church should focus on conserving tradition or adapting to modern culture. According to Public Religion Research Institute, more than 4-in-10 (42 percent) American Catholics say that their church should preserve its traditional beliefs and practices; however, a majority say either that their church should adjust traditional beliefs and practices in light of new circumstances (37 percent) or adopt modern beliefs and practices (16 percent).
[...] A solid majority (60 percent) of American Catholics agree that the Church's public policy statements should focus more on social justice and the obligation to help the poor, even if it means focusing less on issues like abortion and the right to life. Less than one-third (31 percent) disagree, saying that the church should focus more on abortion and the right to life in its public policy statements, even if it means focusing less on social justice and the obligation to help the poor. This emphasis persists even among the most loyal churchgoers: a slim majority (51 percent) of Catholics who attend church at least weekly agree that the Church should emphasize social justice over abortion and the right to life.
Feel free to share any relevant thoughts in this thread, whatever your religious affiliation or lack thereof.