With the shocking revelation that Pope Benedict XVI will resign, a large piece of the resulting commentary has centered on who will replace him as Pope. This was predictable because the position of Pope is perhaps the most powerful in the world and there is a known set of possible successors known as the College of Cardinals.
Because TROUP focuses on the intersection of LGBT and Latino constituencies, we have noticed a potential impact that the selection of the next Pope could have on the quickly advancing role of Latinos in LGBT equality.
It is well known that Pope Benedict was a conservative who vehemently opposed civil marriage equality. It is also well reported that in his relatively short time as Pope, he has reshaped the College of Cardinals to represent the conservative factions of the Catholic Church.
With each papal opening increasing the pressure on the Church to have a non-European Pope, the chances of the new Pontiff being selected from a Latino nation increase. And with the Latino world seeing quick advances in marriage equality, it is possible that the College of Cardinals will see the selection of a Latino Pope as a way to stem that progress.
Such a selection could not only successfully stem progress on marriage equality in Latino countries with heavy Catholic populations, but it could also put pressure on growing alliances among the LGBT and Latino communities. If such a prominent conservative Latino figure emerges, it could affect public opinion in Latino communities worldwide.
This will be interesting to observe. To paraphrase Dr. King, we at TROUP believe that the arc of history bends toward justice. While this papal selection could have some serious short-term consequences, it will not overcome the journey we are all now traveling together.