Well, the new Pope has a task to take on or to ignore.
Every single one of the major doctinal issues facing the Roman Catholic church involves women.
- The celebacy of Priests
- Female Priests
It is ironic that John Paul II, who was a Maryist, has left the church just as misogynistic as it was when he took up the papacy.
It seems devotion to a pseudo-historical representation of womanhood borrowed and developed from pre-Christian religions is not enough to stop sexist attitudes; women are still too dirty to allow to have sex with Priests, are not allowed control over their own bodies, and are unworthy of being spiritual guides and mentors.
All the bets are on a traditionalist being elected Pope, so I doubt we will see any change.
(warning, this article is by Pat Buchanan)
Will another dozen years or so of a traditionalist Pope leave the RCC in any better position? Will the likely drop in charisma of the next Pope when compared to JPII (who although a traidtionalist was excellent at the amiable-old-man-of-god routine) cause those young people who were so engaged by JPII to move away from the Church? Will the patterns of church attendence in developing countries (like in South America) follow the patterns of attendance in EUrope and America as sociological differences reduce? Do we really care?
Obviously some of the above four points are doctrinal (women ordination) and have been stated by previous Popes to be not open to change. Others, such as Priest celebacy, is seen as 'church disciple' and changable.
An increasing number of those who still follow the RCC say (in surveys) they would support changes to doctrine in such areas. Add in those who ignore some RCC teachings on sexuality and contraception and you have two Churches.
One of old men seeking to restore a Church that can never be as it was. And one of young people who are attracted to the tradition of faith but look at things through modern eyes and want a faith that doesn't make them accept idoicies as part of it belief structure.
The old men will never win. They never do.
Whether there is any RCC left when they give up and liberalise is a different question...