The papacy is not a necessary
part of Christian tradition. And there is no conceivable reason for the
Vatican to be located in Italy. Jesus never traveled to Europe. In
fact, he never left the Middle East. Wouldn't it make more sense for
the Vatican to be located in Israel? The papacy was created by the
Romans. They were interested in consolidating power, and they did not
hesitate to use the Christian religion to do so.
However, the Pope of today does not have the same powers that Popes did over the course of the last two millennia. The Pope can no longer declare a Crusade. He can no longer ban science. He can no longer persecute and oppress minorities. So then what is the purpose of having a Pope in the 21st century? A thousand years ago, it made sense to have a Pope so that he could control the lives of his subjects.
But today, the Pope has little control of the destinies of a billion Catholics worldwide. The Pope of today is merely a spiritual figure. The role of the Pope today appears to be as a sort of guide. He has studied the Catholic faith and doctrine intensively. And he guides Catholics around the world and advises them on how to practice their faith. But then why should their be only one Pope? Why can't there be dozens of Popes in the Catholic Church? Or perhaps hundreds?
Each Roman Catholic priest that is well-versed in the study of Catholicism should be allowed to act as a guide for Catholics. This would be better than having just one guy - Pope Benedict XVI - act as the only guide for all Catholics. There is diversity of opinion on matters of faith in Islam primarily because of the absence of any centralized authority. This absence needs to be present in Catholicism as well.
Otherwise, the Catholic Church will not only lack diversity of opinion on matters of faith, but the entire system upon which the Catholic Church is built will be destroyed if the supposedly infallible Pope is seen to have committed (at the very least) a gross misjudgment or (at the very most) a serious crime.
Free the Catholics from the papacy!