Recently, Pope Benedict XVI selected six non-European Cardinals to present the growing diversity within the Catholic Church, and to better reflect its the international character.
These new appointments are what many believe, a response to the criticisms that the Pope appointed mostly European cardinals, “despite the Church’s estimate that less than a quarter of the world’s Catholics live in Europe,” according to BBC News.
With large adherents of Catholicism in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, these new appointments seek to change the tradition of a majority European/White group. As the world population continues to increase and more people convert to Catholicism, the evolving diaspora of the Church seeks to change how Catholicism is viewed globally.
The six new appointed Cardinals come from countries spanning the globe: Lebanon, Colombia, U.S., Philippines, India, and Nigeria. Additionally, all appointees are younger than 80 years old.
As liaisons to the Pope, Cardinals, the Pope’s closest aides, will assume instrumental roles in the selection of the next Pope. Several come from majority Muslim countries, which aligns with the Pope’s ethos to connect different faiths and religions for the betterment of humankind.
“The Pope’s elevation of Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al Rahi, the head of the Maronite Church – an ancient Lebanese Christian Church in communion with Rome – is seen as a sign of Vatican support for religious diversity in Lebanon,” David Wiley from BBC News reports.
The Pope hopes to ease the tension between Catholics and Muslims, especially in the Middle East where both religions share an intertwined history.
“By adding six non-Europeans to the number of 114 cardinal electors, the Pope has slightly shifted the geographical demographic of the body which will ultimately choose his successor, though Europeans still make up the majority, at 51%,” according to the BBC News.
Although the majority of Catholics live outside of Europe, the demographics of Cardinals are still compromised mostly of European/White men. This is a new beginning for the diversity within the faith. Elaborate ceremonies were held this past week to commemorate the appointed positions.
“Cheers broke out among the supporters of each cardinal-designate as the Pope presented them with the gold rings at the consistory and the red hats and vestments, which symbolize their readiness to shed their blood to defend their Christian faith” BBC News reports.
This is only the beginning of a new chapter, with Pope Benedict XVI showing the world that Catholicism and the Catholic Church is a “church for the whole of humanity.”