The Pope-makers

Smoke%20coming%20out%20of%20smokestackThis afternoon, on the 2-hour mark, smoke billowed from the chimneys on the Sistine Chapel and it was black, jet black.  At least that’s what the BBC commentator said. Great drama.

Is it me, or does it seem that the whole world along with those in St Peter’s square is waiting with bated breath for the new pontiff to emerge? I don’t remember having even the vaguest interest in the popedom in the past. It must be the level of political in-fighting in a dyfunctional Curia, Vatileaks, the Vatican bank under investigation - when was it not? Remember god's banker found hanging under a London bridge? And then there's the interminable sex scandals. A church in crisis. Poor Benedict, the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to abdicate, he was apparently done in by it all.

Right now 115 ‘princes’ of the Church (60 Europeans, 19 Latin American, 14 North American, 11 African, 10 Asian and one Australian) representing 1.2bn Catholics are choosing the 266th pope. The Guardian Newspaper surveyed the candidates – diplomats, academics, intellectuals, hardliners, conservatives, moderates and mavericks as well as those who defy categorisation. The following descriptions and direct quotes emerged:

- Four cardinals choosing the pontiff are facing question about what they knew about the abuse of children by priests in their dioceses.

- One said same-sex unions was an aberration and asked ‘would you want to be adopted by a pair of faggots or lesbians?’ He is also alleged to have said ‘women shouldn’t go around being so provocative – that’s why so many get raped.’ (Hard to believe a cardinal would say that).

- African cardinals tend to hold similar views – vehemently against same sex relationships, and scepticism about using condoms to halt the spread of HIV/Aids. One suggested that Africa had largely escaped the sexual abuse scandals thanks to its strong taboos against homosexuality.

- One Cardinal is said to appear to hint that the church should acknowledge homosexual partnerships – ‘there are other forms of cohabitation and it is good that they be recognised’, he said.

- Another who is said to travel around by bus told people not to waste their money on plane tickets to Rome to see him become a cardinal but to give it instead to the poor.

Very soon, white smoke will emerge from the Sistine Chapel, and hey presto, as though through a process of transubstantiation, an Infallible (perfect, flawless) Pope will emerge. How about a Tunde or a Luis?

NEXT DAY: Not a Luis but a Jorge - first Latin American, first Jesuit and first Pope Francis - who went round the Argentine on a bus, good for him.

See The Guardian, Saturday 9 March 2013


Popular posts from this blog