As expected, the mainstream media has launched into a flurry of speculation about who the next pope will be, forgetting that 1) God is in charge and He doesn’t belong to a political party and 2) there’s a reason for the old adage “Who Enters the Conclave a Pope Leaves a Cardinal.”
Even though the mainstream media has never accurately predicted a pope, that hasn’t stopped them from trying. Depending on which bookmakers you read, the top contenders are Francis Arinze of Nigeria (odds of 2-1) followed by Peter Turkson of Ghana (odds of 5-2). Marc Ouellet of Canada is another media favorite, while Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is also in the running with odds of 25 to 1.
Francis Arinze was the favorite of bookmakers in 2005, and we all know how that turned out.
But still, they try, and are destined to be forever wrong because, as Patrick Archbold writes on his Creative Minority blog, the model the media uses is flawed.
“The media consistently makes the mistake of treating Church affairs as they treat the affairs of government. We witness this daily in their treatment of doctrine as just the latest policy fad and subject to the whim of the current president of the Vatican State.”
But that won’t stop the media from not only bantering about the names of possible contenders, but also from expressing their desires for a more “inclusive” pope who will revise Church teaching to allow the pill, women’s ordination, same-sex marriage, and the rest of the usual line-up of “human rights” issues.
What they consistently fail to comprehend in all this is the “God factor.”
“The men making this selection have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ and His Church,” Archbold writes. “They have dedicated their lives to teaching what Jesus taught. They are not looking merely for someone who represents their political preferences, they are looking for someone who is completely dedicated to Truth with a capital T. And they don’t just vote, they pray. They pray a lot.”
Unlike secular elections, any kind of electioneering or deal-making is strictly forbidden.
“The cardinal electors shall abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind….,” says the document, Universi Dominici Gregis. “[They are] not to allow themselves to be guided…by friendship or aversion, or to be influenced by favor or personal relationships towards anyone, or to be constrained by the interference of persons in authority or by pressure groups, by the suggestions of the mass media, or by force, fear or the pursuit of popularity.”
In other words, it won’t be politics that decides who the next pope will be. It will be the Holy Spirit, and His decision will come to us through the men He has chosen to speak for Him – not the anchor on CNN.
The most important task at hand for the faithful is to pray to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to bless our Cardinals with the discernment they need to hear His voice and vote accordingly.
And we might also ask Him to remind our brothers and sisters in the mainstream media about that old adage which has been proven true in every papal election since the Church began – “He who enters the Conclave a ‘Pope’, leaves a Cardinal.”
They never got it right before, and they won’t get it right this time either.
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