While the Catholic Church adapts to the sudden news that their pontiff will resign at the end of the month after only eight years at the supreme seat of power at the Vatican, predictions and aspirations abound. Wishes to name a first-ever Canadian pope, Cardinal Marc Ouellette, have been expressed -- on the cover of the Washington Post, no less.
But has anyone considered demographics?
In fact, according to a 2004 Boston College Magazine study, fully 50 per cent of the world's Catholics are Latino (including the United States' Latino community).
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Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, splashes holy water during his visit to the Church of the Nativity in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem on February 27, 2008. AFP PHOTO/MUSA AL-SHAER (Photo credit should read MUSA AL-SHAER/AFP/Getty Images)
TRIER, GERMANY - APRIL 13: Cardinal Marc Ouellet holds a mass in celebration of The Pilgrimage of the Holy Robe at the Cathedral of St Peter on April 13, 2012 in Trier, Germany. The Pilgrimage of the Holy Robe runs from April 13 to May 13, during which hundreds of thousands pilgrims are expected to view the Holy Robe. The robe, said to have been worn by Jesus Christ leading up to his crucifixion, is housed by the cathedral and rarely displayed for public viewing. (Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images)
The President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi poses during the presentation of Pope Benedict XVI's new book 'Childhood of Jesus' to the press on November 20, 2012 at the Vatican. “Childhood of Jesus” is the third volume of Joseph Ratzinger's 'Jesus of Nazareth' series. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Vatican State Secretary Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (L) and the archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola chat at La Scala theatre in Milan on June 1, 2012 during the 7th World Meeting of Families. Benedict attended a concert at the prestigious Scala opera house to hear Beethoven's Ninth Symphony conducted by Daniel Barenboim. AFP PHOTO / POOL / DANIEL DAL ZENNARO (Photo credit should read DANIEL DAL ZENNARO/AFP/GettyImages)
President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue of the Vatican City Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (C) pay his respects at the Golden Temple Sikh Shrine in Amritsar on November 11, 2011. Tauran along with four members visited the city to attend a religious seminary on Sikhism and Christians to be held at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar on November 12. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Benedict XVI talks with Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of CEI (Italian Bishops' Conference), during an audience with the Curia for Christmas greetings, in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace, in Vatican City, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. The Pope met with Cardinals and members of the Roman Curia for an exchange of greetings ahead of the year end festivities. (AP Photo/Claudio Peri, Pool)
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks to the press in his residence, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Dolan says he was as startled as the rest of the world about Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that he will resign later this month due to failing health. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines takes place for an audience with the pontif on November 26, 2012 at Paul VI hall at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI led an audience to the six non-European prelates appointed two-days ago as new members of the College of Cardinals. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, right, arrives for a meeting, at the Vatican, Monday, March 4, 2013. Cardinals from around the world have gathered inside the Vatican for their first round of meetings before the conclave to elect the next pope, amid scandals inside and out of the Vatican and the continued reverberations of Benedict XVI's decision to retire. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) CORRECTION: An earlier photo incorrectly identified Bernard Cardinal Agre, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cote D'Ivoire as Cardinal Arinze
Indeed, the religion imposed by the colonizers since Christopher Columbus reached "Indian" land has spread across the Americas. Colonizers introduced horses, a host of diseases, and also homophobia to the indigenous peoples. In addition, the Europeans whipped their African slaves into adopting their religious doctrine. Five-hundred years on, Latin America accounts for almost half of the world's Catholics.
Africa has also experienced colonization through which ancient belief systems and native traditions were supplanted by Euro-centric religions and intense homophobia (which has yet to be relinquished). Approximately 15 per cent of the 1.2-billion Catholics in the world live in Africa.
According to the Vatican, for every 100 seminarians in the world at the end of 2005, 32 were from the Americas, 26 were Asian, 21 African, 20 European and one from Oceania. "It could be time for a black pope, or a yellow one, or a red one, or a Latin American," said Guatemala's Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales after Benedict's announcement.
Despite the changing face of the catholic parishes, the apartheid-formula has yielded a pontiff of European heritage. It appears only one gender is deemed worthy of this position of influence.
While scandals continue to shake the Catholic Church, whether in mitigation of child rape, contempt for homosexuals, or denying positions of power to women, it still holds a place of influence in several nations. The Pope remains a powerful symbol for millions of people. Are many among them praying for a pontiff who shares their pedigree? Pienso que si.
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