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Will the new Pope be a moderniser? Say a little prayer

 Published on: 12th February 2013   |   By: Nik Allen

So the Catholic Church is faced with finding a new man to steer the ship, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

Will the Roman Catholic Church opt for a moderniser to help bring it into the 21st Century?

I would like to think so, although given all three Papal favourites are over 60 (the youngest 64, the oldest 80) and frown upon things like homosexuality (see my blog last week for my views on that) it’s pretty unlikely.

The leading candidate is Cardinal Peter Turkson, 64, a Ghanaian often hailed as a “people’s person”. He is considered a moderate because he hasn’t ruled out the use of condoms (well I suppose that’s a start).

The next hot favourite (if you can refer to anyone who is 80 as a hot favourite) is Nigeria’s Cardinal Francis Arinze. Although, you would expect the church to question whether they should hand the job to someone who is in their eighth decade.

The third person tipped for the job is Cardinal Marc Ouellet, from Quebec, 68, a conservative who thinks abortion is a moral crime even in rape cases.

I was raised a Roman Catholic, and educated by nuns. As soon as I turned 18 I converted to the Church of England so you can see my personal bias on this issue.

My determination to change my religion was due to a brutal convent education where you were severely punished for the most minor thing.

After one particularly brutal bout of physical abuse when I was 10 I made a pledge to change religion. As soon as I turned 18 I started confirmation classes with the Church of England (even the embarrassment attending classes with people half my age didn’t deter me).

But I still would like to see the Church rebuild its base. There are some very good people in the Church, people who care about humanity.

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be reflected in the Church hierarchy which seems more removed than ever from the real world.

It would be interesting to see what happened if an African man took over the running of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI took a confusing line on condoms. At first he suggested using condoms may actually increase the spread of Aids. A year later he softened his stance a little and said they could be used “in some cases”.

But when you look at the Aids statistics you have to ask could an African Pope continue this mixed message?

Some 24 million people and more than 60 per cent of the HIV-infected population live in Africa. South Africa alone is reported to have five million people living with HIV and Aids.

Can the Church continue to bury its head in the sand on such an issue? A successor is expected to be announced by the end of next month, in the meantime say a little prayer. It would be great to see a real change in the way the Church is run.

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