Much speculation has centered on a possible pope from a developing nation such as Africa or latin America. Along with Asia, these regions represent the areas of growth for the Catholic Church. While this could happen it is interesting to consider these thoughts by Tony Barber in today's Financial Times.
"The election of Cardinal Ratzinger, or another European would indicate that many cardinals think the next pope must make a priority of defending the Church's identity and influence in Europe, an area where, some Catholic prelates lament, Christianity is under siege from materialistic godlessness and from Islam because of rising Muslim populations.
John Paul was dismayed by the refusal of European Union leaders to include a specific reference to Europe's Christian roots in the constitutional treaty they signed last year in Rome. Other churchmen, including Cardinal Ratzinger, do not want Turkey--a Muslim nation but secular democracy--to join the EU.
According to Italian Church leaders, the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the US also served to concentrate minds on the threats to Christian civilization. "The event opened a reflection on the identity of the civilization shared by the west and therefore by our country, bringing to light how the religious and Christian component is a founding part of that identity," says Bishop Giuseppe Betori, secretary-general of the Italian bishops' conference."
Whoever becomes the next pope will be concerned with the political, social and moral condition of Europe. The future of the present European Constitution is in doubt. If it fails, and an new one needs to be written, the church, with a new pontiff, will have a new opportunity to include a reference to Europe's historic Christian roots. Who knows, perhaps more than a passing reference will be written into some future version of a European charter. Bible prophecy shows the emergence of a powerful church-state combine from the European region. See our booklet, The Book of Revelation Unveiled for more details of this unfolding story.