My starting point is the one made by Archbishop Diarmaid Martin when he addressed priests at the 2004 gathering of the National Conference of Priests in Ireland: “We are not losing people to another Christian church. We are losing them to a secular understanding of life.”
We need, then, a Pope who is competent to address John Paul II’s unfinished business that shows up as the relentless growth of secularism - which David Quinn wrongly equated with atheism in an article in your columns on January 6 last - at the expense of Catholicism.
To defeat secularism we need a Pope who is readily able to recall all our Catholic beliefs.
That means being able to recall what is in the 2,865 paragraphs of the updated Catholic catechism issued in 1992.
How many of the cardinals have that ability? The only two of whom we can be sure are Cardinal Ratzinger, who chaired the episcopal commission which oversaw the production of the catechism, and Cardinal Schonborn, who over a period of six years chaired the editorial committee on a full-time basis.
Therefore, I think our cardinals should choose the 77-year-old Cardinal Ratzinger to be our next Pope until the 60-year-old Cardinal Schonborn has enough first-hand experience of the curia to succeed him.
The former’s elevation would pave the way for the latter to be appointed to Cardinal Ratzinger’s current post at the Congregation for Doctrine. That pairing, in my opinion, would equip our church to attend to the unfinished business to which I have referred.