An Indonesian pope

An interesting speculative piece in The Guardian put forward the Archbishop of Jakarta, Julius Darmaatmadja, as an outside candidate for the papacy:

Julius Darmaatmadja, 70, Indonesian, archbishop of Jakarta. Darmaatmadja is widely respected in the Muslim community, an important achievement in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. He was outspoken in his opposition to the war in Iraq and has cautioned against linking Islam with terrorism. He is also socially conservative.

Highly unlikely – after all, Francis Arinze from Nigeria would share his good relations with the Muslim community, and Catholics and other Christians are much more on the map in Nigeria than Indonesia, which is 89% Muslim. Then again, the late Pope, John Paul II, came from a then-Communist-ruled country, and he was not even on any watch-list prior to his election.

At the very least, it’s an honour to have been named to such a list. The Guardian’s left-wing heritage might make them more attuned to the Church’s social mission than, say, the New York Times, but as Florence’s Ennio Antonelli said, “The new pope has already been chosen by the Lord. We just have to pray to understand who he is.”.

An Indonesian pope would probably be conservative on reproductive issues (sex education in Catholic schools there are definitely of the abstinence-only form), but tolerant of other faiths and strike a middle ground on matters of economics – fair trade as opposed to anti-globalisation.

When even the Archbishop of Chicago gets quoted thus on contraception:

A reporter asked Cardinal Francis George of Chicago in a news conference last week whether the church would consider approving the use of condoms to prevent AIDS in places like Africa.

“Your solution is to exterminate the poor?” he said, referring to the births that contraception would prevent. “The doctrine of the church isn’t going to change, and so you work with it as best as you can.”

it is probably premature to expect a change on that front, and as such, a papacy that at least focusing more closely on the needs of the developing world should be welcomed by even us liberals.

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