Norberto Rivera Carrera

Even with black or Latin pope, don't expect major change

WASHINGTON - Social progressives who are excited by the possibility of an African or Latin American pope should be wary of what they ask for. The leading candidates of color appear to lean closer politically to Clarence Thomas than to Colin L. Powell. And in the Latino political rainbow, closer to Linda Chavez than Cesar Chavez.

Pope John Paul II, the first pope from Poland, has made the election of a pontiff from someplace other than Italy all the more plausible and possible. That's good news for those who want to remind the world that Catholics come in more than one color.

In the next few years, Catholics in Africa are expected to outnumber Catholics in Europe.