Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 3, 2005 / 24 Shevat, 5765

Next Pope could, and maybe should, be a Third-Worlder

By George Friedman


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Pope John Paul II was hospitalized Tuesday with breathing trouble. He is very old and the world must be prepared for his passing at some point soon. The death of popes is always significant, but the death of this pope is a geopolitical event.

Pope John Paul II's voice in global politics has been unmistakable. A staunch opponent of Communism, he played a vital role in bringing about the destruction of the Warsaw Pact in the 1980s by siding with the Solidarity Movement in Poland against Moscow.

Without his influence, the "handshake revolutions" that began in Poland and spread across the Eastern Bloc still would have occurred, but likely would have been punctuated with flying fists and bullets instead of handshakes. Though we are not staunch believers in the role of individuals as determinants in the course of geopolitics, they can be catalysts or focal points — and in that sense the potential geopolitical import of the papacy and the choice of John Paul's successor should not be overlooked.

Europe, mainly Italy, has controlled the papacy since the founding of the Catholic Church. In recent centuries, this reflected a global order in which Europe was the geopolitical center of gravity. During most of this period, the Catholic Church itself was pulling many of Europe's political strings, whether on its own or at the behest of a European despot.

With the Cold War over, the passing of John Paul II would put the Church in a position in which, for the first time, it would be selecting the spiritual leader of more than 1 billion followers at a time when no major geopolitical fault lines are crossing the European continent.

Meanwhile, the number of Catholics in the world is growing — expected to surpass 1.1 billion this year — and the highest growth rates are in the developing world, especially Africa. In European countries, the number of Catholics remains stable, but most practitioners there appear to have lost interest in active Church participation. Europe has had to import clergymen from around the world, and the Vatican views Africa as a spiritual resource capable of "re-evangelizing the West." African Catholics, however, might want higher accolades. The proliferation of democracies in Africa, however flawed, and the growth of Catholicism there have led to greater religious freedom that is manifesting itself in part in the competition for papal succession.

Many African dioceses recognize that the developed Catholic world needs them to provide an injection of spiritual vigor, and they want the Church to reflect that at the highest level. The leaders of multiple-country dioceses — including in Nigeria, where the growth rate in Catholicism is perhaps the highest in the continent — have vowed that if the College of Cardinals does not choose an African candidate as the next pope, they will break with Rome and go their own way.

Historically speaking, schisms in the Church have not played out well. If there should be a break, tensions between countries on both sides could develop. For instance, if zealous bishops in Nigeria were to raise a sufficient uproar against the papal succession from their pulpits (though this is rather an extreme scenario), their congregations could be persuaded to give the religious disagreement a political form — perhaps pressuring Abuja against selling oil to non-African countries with significant Catholic populations, or demonstrating at the headquarters of major Western oil companies.

Donate to JWR


A split from Rome by several determined African countries, itself an extreme scenario, could lead to an African coalition effort throughout the developing world calling for the creation of a "new" Catholic Church. Such a development would soon find its way into geopolitical circles, whether able to generate any real traction or not.

Africa and Europe are not the only regions seeking to place one of their own in the Vatican, however. Latin America, which is home to millions of Catholics, is both part of the developing world and has long-standing ethnic and political ties to Europe. As such, candidates from several Latin American countries could represent a compromise choice for the College of Cardinals.

What is certain is that the choice of the next pope will carry some geopolitical significance. It might be that developing world demands for greater influence in the Church will require the Vatican to focus more intensely on the developing world. That focus could very well bring political and socioeconomic issues more to the political fore, forcing governments around the world to confront those issues more directly.

Developing countries are increasingly asserting themselves against the political and economic hegemony of the developed world, which for centuries was embodied by Europe and European Christianity. With more than 1 billion people tuned in, the majority of whom live in the developing world, and a position of global magnitude and influence on the line, the choice of the next pope could very easily become a metaphor for that struggle.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and the media consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

FRIEDMAN'S LATEST
"America's Secret War."  

Friedman identifies the United States' most dangerous enemies, delves into presidential strategies of the last quarter century, and reveals the real reasons behind the attack of September 11 and the Bush administration's motivation for the war in Iraq. Here in eye-opening detail is an insightful picture of today's world that goes far beyond what is reported in the news media. Sales help fund JWR.


Comment by clicking here.

George Friedman is chairman of Strategic Forecasting, Inc., dubbed by Barron's as "The Shadow CIA," it's one of the world's leading global intelligence firms, providing clients with geopolitical analysis and industry and country forecasts to mitigate risk and identify opportunities. Stratfor's clients include Fortune 500 companies and major governments.


01/27/05: Decision-day in Iran: Is it for or against United States?
01/14/05: Russia's missile sale to Syria gets back at U.S. over Ukraine
01/06/05: Tsunami realities: Most in need are least likely to get help


© 2005 TMS