Is Globalization finally saying “STOP!” to the Catholic Church? only seven years as Head of the Catholic Church, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is an astonishing news.  This may be a message on how Globalization affects such global organization.  The election of Pope Benedict XVI followed all the rules of the Church but did not listen to the “new” rules imposed by globalization: which include good advertisement, global awareness, and above all intercultural appealing to standards of ‘universal friendliness and empathy’, among others.  I wrote an article titled “Parishes Fail to Market Catholicism to Hispanics (pdf available here)” (National Catholic Reporter, Vol. 43, No. 12 2007) discussing how the Catholic Church has failed to Market Catholicism among Hispanics.

Benedict XVI was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave, celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, on 7 May 2005. Today, February 11, 2013, Benedict announced that he would resign the papacy, effective February 28, due to age and ill health.

His health may be have been an issue.  However, it seems to me that the real problem started when the Papal conclave of 2005 elected him above the other contestants for the Pope position without taking notice of all the changes that institution has gone through centuries.

Currently, Catholics are 17.77% of the total population in Africa, 63.10% in the Americas, 3.05% in Asia, 39.97% in Europe, 26.21% in Oceania and 17.09% of the world population. (Further information: Catholicism by country)

Distribution of Catholics by World Region, 2004, 2025, and 2050
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Source: Author’s calculations based on data from PRB’s World Population Data Sheet 2004 and accessed at

Globalization is slowly forcing them to adapt to this new demographics and the election of a Latin American (a Mediterranean look would suffice) or African Pope could bring some new Fresh air to this archaic institution.  The Latin America region already represents 42 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion-strong Catholic population, the largest single block in the Church, compared to 25 percent in its European heartland.

In 2005 among the “popeable” (one who might become pope) where also the cardinals Carlo Maria Martini, who died last year and obtained 40 votes in the first ballot versus the popular Italian cardinal Camillo Ruini who also was a contestant for the position in that initial ballot.  Cardinal Ruini has been very active in the mass media and was one of the cardinals who most often appeared on Italian television, newspapers and magazines.  I would suppose that his election as a new Pope in the Conclave of cardinals that will choose the next pope in mid-March is very high.  Camilo Ruini is very popular among the “Reformer” side of the Catholic Church as the news inform (he is also more photogenic and could appeal to the Hispanic followers easily).

Lets see what happens in March, 2013 with the new Papal Conclave.  Meanwhile, I share with you a documentary on the new face of this Eurocentric organization that is finally (slowly) changing its own look!

The Catholic Church and Africa

The Great Narrative and the School of Salamanca

The Great Narrative in regard to 16th Century Spain is focused on the expansion of Spanish Mercantilism in America and in how the Ottomans were defeated at the naval Battle of Lepanto bringing their dominance of the Mediterranean to a close.

Sadly (to a great extent), this Euro-centric perspective started to change and more emphasis was given to the production of knowledge in the Peninsula via the appropriation of the culture and scientific knowledge brought to Europe by the al-Andalus Muslims. The Great Narrative and its “Western exceptionalism” discourse won the battle again and it focused on how “Europe” or the “West” acquired this knowledge and created a “Renaissance of Knowledge” while forgetting the source of it.

This Western Renaissance is today widely know and studied as the School of Salamanca.  A School that Western historians like to remember as the product in 100% of Catholic Religion, Spanish rationalist theological work, Western humanism and by the Protestant Reformation that was consolidated in Salamanca with the writings of the Scholastics Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, Martín de Azpilcueta (or Azpilicueta), Tomás de Mercado, and Francisco Suárez.

The “non-western” roots of this Renaissance in the Spanish Peninsula are still not well discussed nor researched.  There’s still the need for further study the inherited knowledge from the al-Andalus Muslims (who were later known as Mudéjars) and to establish a direct link of many of the roots of “Europe’s Renaissance” in places as far as the Tigris and Eufrates.

Today, my book recommendation will be a great work that exemplifies how this Great Narrative idealized the School of Salamanca as the product of 100% “Western values”.  It is worth reading and studying carefully in order to not commit the same mistakes.

School of SalamancaThe School of Salamanca

Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson’s remarkable classic, The School of Salamanca, posed an extraordinary challenge when it first appeared in 1952. The book is not only a pioneering presentation of this lost school of monetary theory—fantastic thinkers of Old Spain that were more advanced than the English classicals centuries later–it is also beautifully written.