April 03, 2005

Idle thoughts on the papacy

I'm not a Catholic, so I don't usually think about the Pope very often. Now that John Paul II has passed away, though, I'd love to eavesdrop on some of the furious political maneuvering that must be going on in the offices of most of the cardinals.

Think about it -- the stakes are much, much higher here (at least for Catholics and probably not just for Catholics) than for, say, a Supreme Court nomination in the Senate. A Supreme Court nomination is only 1/9th of the whole ball game, but (major medieval schisms aside) there's always been just one Pope.

Also, cardinals get to elevate one of themselves into the Papal office. Imagine if Senators could do that for a vacant Supreme Court seat. Joe Biden would get more hyperactive than the Tasmanian Devil.

Finally, the cardinals get to do most of their political maneuvering in secret. If you'll pardon the hockey analogy, secrecy probably means that the gloves come off. I can't help but think here of the church-intrigue novels of Thomas Gifford.

Oh, while I'm on the subject of the Pope. . .

Anthony Rickey rightly takes the New York Times editorialists to task, recognizing that they "just can't resist getting their licks in", no matter how nonsensical they may be.

Mr. Rickey then asks, "when did modern liberalism become the haunting fear that someone, somewhere might disapprove of some act of sex?"

A brilliant rhetorical riposte! Anthony beats the NYT and the Washington Post at their own game.

Posted by Carey at April 3, 2005 08:50 PM


keep in mind - the only requirements for appointing a pope is that "he" be a "catholic." tales of pope "joan" aside, it is a curious look into human nature that the VAST majority of the popes have been selected from among the college of cardinals... echoes of "my precious" come to mind...

in a way, i'm excited to see what the conclave decides. (btw, did you know that traditionally, the conclave is locked in until they decide - to avoid laboriously long decisions? it once took the college over a year to decide, so the next time they had to choose a pope, vatican counselors locked the cardinals in during one of their meetings and refused to give them food until they decided... that was the shortest decision in history - one day). perhaps we'll have our first african or asian (or non-european) pope?


Posted by: ulteriorepicure at April 5, 2005 09:41 AM

u.e.: I'm no expert, but the election of John Paul II was kind of radical in its own way. A Polish Pontiff? No way, too crazy! Or not.

We'll see about whether they're 'crazy' enough to elect a Pope from Asia or Africa. The political maneuverings that might lead to this kind of decision are interesting...

Posted by: Carey at April 5, 2005 07:51 PM