Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Papal Politics

Who will succeed Pope Benedict the XVI, who surprised the world by stepping down as Bishop of Rome this week?

"I am not running," announced Vice President Joe Biden, according to CNN. Thankfully, with one candidate ruled out, there are a number of more serious contenders. Front-runners include conservatives and moderates, as well candidates who appeal to different demographic groups in different regions. In fact, it sounds an awful lot like an American election—minus the constant stream of 30 second television advertisements. Perhaps Mr. Biden would have fit right in.

All jokes aside, Pope Benedict's early retirement puts us in a unique situation when it comes to selecting a successor. To start, the College of Cardinals—the group of men chosen to elect the next pope—will have more time than usual to evaluate their fellow clergy before the voting begins. That's because unlike in past years, there is no death of a Pope to mourn. When a Pope dies, Cardinals are summoned to Rome immediately to begin intense meetings in an already unusual environment. But that's not the case this time. In fact, Cardinal Francis George told the Chicago Tribune he would "make better use of the time before the voting begins."

The media, along with millions of Catholics around the world, might do the same. As the resumes and philosophies of various Cardinals are vetted and scrutinized, it might even end up feeling like an election after all. So what might Catholics be looking for?

Wall Street Journal