On August 27, Pope Francis inducted twenty new cardinals into the Roman Catholic Church. A cardinal is the most senior member of the Catholic clergy and—subject to age restrictions—eligible to vote for the next pope. Four new countries—Mongolia, Paraguay, Singapore, and East Timor—are included. Of the entire College of Cardinals, 54 electors are from Europe, 38 from the Americas, 20 from Asia, 17 from Africa, and 3 from Oceania. The numbers represent an impressive globalization and diversification of the Catholic Church.
Of course, liberal Quakers are mostly found in North America and Britain. Moreover, liberal Friends have been singularly unsuccessful at attracting working-class people and ethnic minorities. We liberals are top-heavy with intellectuals and college-educated members—a fact which causes consternation in a society whose ideas include diversity and universality.
Perhaps we should accept this lack of diversity as an inevitable consequence of the nature of liberal Quakerism. We would not criticize a polar bear for being unable to survive in the Sonoran Desert of Texas and Mexico. Liberal Friends are a kind of polar bear, well-adapted to (potentially) survive in the secular, intellectual world but poorly suited to flourish among all races, social classes, and locales. Perhaps we should accept our fate and resign ourselves to being a middle-class, homogenous elite which nevertheless promotes diversity at large.
~ Richard Russell
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