Many Vatican watchers suspect the cardinals will choose someone with better management skills and a more personal touch than the bookish Benedict, someone who can extend the church’s reach to new constituencies, particularly to the young people of Europe, for whom the church is now largely irrelevant, and to Latin America and Africa, where evangelical movements are fast encroaching.
“They want somebody who can carry this idea of new evangelization, relighting the missionary fires of the church and actually make it work, not just lay it out in theory,” said John L. Allen, a Vatican expert at the National Catholic Reporter and author of many books on the papacy. Someone who will be “the church’s missionary in chief, a showman and salesman for the Catholic faith, who can take the reins of government more personally into his own hands,” he added.
The other big battle in the church is over the demographic distribution of Catholics, which has shifted decisively to the developing world. Today, 42 percent of adherents come from Latin America, and about 15 percent from Africa, versus only 25 percent from Europe.
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