If by the time you read this, the Sistine Chapel spews out white smoke, then we’ll either be in a new era of the Catholic Church or stuck in the translucence of tradition, where the light doesn’t always shine through.
In this conclave’s quest for a newly elected pope, the stakes are high: Do we get someone who recognizes the need for reform? Or do we get someone all too willing to let the faithful believe that indeed God works in mysterious ways.
The church will lose members either way.
But if the conclave takes the second course, and leaves “not so good” alone, it will flash a green light to the smart, cunning men (and unfortunately in the Catholic Church, men is all that we mean), who will continue to do what men do, all be it in the name of God.
Considering the sheer mass of alleged wrongdoing by Church leaders, some that’s only recently come to light, this is a critical moment for the cardinals. There’s been no better case for reform in the Catholic Church since Vatican II.
It would be great if someone just plopped out of the sky, or appeared at a mountaintop in a flash of light. But that only happens in the presence of God, and the election of a pope is purely political and in the realm of man. It’s not a matter of liturgy. Nothing anyone says will be in red type. Let’s not forget that.
Prior to Benedict’s departure, it was said that an American pope would be too much for a Superpower to have that kind of foothold in an institution like the Catholic Church.
But why not? What the Catholic Church needs is a man of charisma who can communicate the church message.
So far, from reports, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston seems to have impressed the others by his ease with language. It’s not his “Bahston” accent that is making him emerge, it’s his Italian accent. Linguistic facility, the practical kind of speaking in tongues, where one can be communicative with a global church, could be the main reason someone gets elected in this conclave. Being a cardinal shows you’re no slouch on religious matters. Your stand on the Virgin birth is a given. But before you can inspire, can you communicate to the clergy, to the flock? Can you be the good Boss?
I’ve mentioned others from Africa and Latin America in the past. But I don’t see the white European cardinals going that direction. And with sex on everyone’s minds and O’Malley, an experienced hand in dealing with the matter, we could see the cardinals defer to an American.
In politics, it’s all about the votes, and the Roman- based traditionalists at the Vatican control at least 50 of the 115 voters. It takes 77 to win. If this were Congress, all eyes would be on the majority whip, promising the pork and counting votes.
But here they’ve taken an oath of secrecy. We’ll never know what horse-trading was done, not even when the smoke turns white.
CHAVEZ, CORY AND MARCOS
Based on where you stand politically, you either loved Hugo Chavez (Leftists Unite!) or hated him (all hail big Oil!)
At death, Chavez to me was neither leftist nor rightist. He was a charismatic leader of the people. And he was dead at 58.
The “58” was the part that stuck me most. This was a young man, who did something Herculean. He stood up to the multi-national industrialists and took back the oil for his people. That’s just not something an ordinary person does.
If he were Cory Aquino, it would be seen as tantamount to “People Power.” Maybe it was even more Cory than Cory could have done because Cory had no oil. (Coconut oil, unfortunately, does not count).
Indeed, with Chavez the nationalist, Venezuelans were proud to be Venezuelans again.
And all because he fought the right-wing capitalists like the Koch Brothers. Chavez may have called George Bush the devil, but Chavez was demonized by the US first. In fact, for all he did for the Venezuelans, he was not seen as a Cory, but as the dictator Marcos.
Marcos had the blessing of Reagan and Bush, but that didn’t whitewash all his anti-democratic edicts in the Philippines. Chavez was a dictator too, but not to the point where his own people would run him out. Not like Marcos.
Chavez had his faults. His strange conspiratorial notions about 9/11 and Mars, are just weird. But when it counted he stood up for his people.
What more can you ask of a leader?