Today is the last day of Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy. He has already urged the College of Cardinals to make haste and not wait until March 15th – perhaps he read my post regarding the ominous Ides of March and the potential for Irish Cardinals to miss St. Patrick’s Day – to begin the process of electing his successor.
The electing of a pope is an ancient process steeped in tradition and custom. The Cardinals meet behind locked doors, make no statements to the outside world other than a puff of smoke that indicates either a new pope has been elected, or a stalemate exists. But they keep going until a new pontiff is elected – a bit like playing extra innings in baseball. (Dare I suggest the St. Louis team plays a major role in the election?).
One of the many traditions is that no Cardinal should ever show any interest in being elected pope. It’s just not done! So I suspect the badge below featuring Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet that many Cardinals were sporting around Rome recently was created by a third-party!
Okay … maybe they weren’t exactly sporting the badges. But I’ve got a hunch this “Gee .. shucks .. not me” attitude is a fairly recent phenomenon. I bet centuries ago there was all kinds of campaigning going on. If Benedict can be the first pope to resign in over 600 years, and change the rules to allow a faster selection process, why not let the Cardinals campaign? Think of the promises they could make; premarital sex isn’t all that bad, priests can marry (each other if they want), divorce? Why not?
Traditionalists and conservatives need not worry; when was the last time anybody kept an election promise?