When Pope Benedict XVI decided to retire, I saw a number of Roman Catholic leaders, including several of the cardinals, interviewed about the kind of person who should be elected as the new Pope. A number of the interviewers thought that the new Pope ought to be a really good manager who could whip the bureaucracy into shape, or deal effectively with scandals. But several of the clergy interviewed said that the most important characteristic is that the new Pope must be an evangelist, someone who could effectively communicate the Gospel to the modern world. I found this to be quite remarkable. I wonder how many of the cardinals at the conclave of 1958, the last one before Vatican II, would have phrased the role of the Pope in this way.
The kind of person who becomes Pope will have a profound effect in the overall fortunes of Christianity in our world. The new Pope's attitude toward Protestant Christianity, especially in Latin America, but also elsewhere, will be important to the cause of missions. Wesley Granberg-Michealson, former leader of the Reformed Church in America offers some interesting thoughts on where the next Pope should come from in this article. What are you hoping for in the election of a new Pope?