Wednesday, February 13, 2013


In a guest post, Malcolm Mann (a Roman Catholic), gives his views on the forthcoming Papal Conclave.

As you know, Pope Benedict XVI resigned on Monday. I was received into the Catholic Church in 1996 so the upcoming conclave will be my second as one of her children. Paul Burgin has kindly invited me to say a few words about the meeting that will elect Benedict's successor.

First of all, I have to admit I have no idea who it will be. At the last conclave, in 2005, Benedict (Cardinal Ratzinger) was the stand-out candidate; this time, however, none of the cardinals strike me as an obvious choice. Here, though, is a list of the men who Business Insider think are papabile.

In his resignation speech , Benedict referred to the world being,

subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith

It might be thought that if we can identify what those 'rapid changes' and 'questions' are we could make an educated guess as to which cardinal will walk out onto the Loggia of the Blessings to greet the faithful when the conclave finishes.

To do so, however, we would need to shake off the biases that come from our geographic location, political and economic views, social concerns and so on. The elector cardinals come from around the world; the worldwide Church, therefore, will be their perspective not just what is important in one part of it.

By-the-bye, it is for this reason that we would do very well to drop any talk of cardinal such-and-such being the leading 'conservative' candidate and cardinal so-and-so being his opposite number in the 'liberal' camp. Their global view can make the cardinals socially conservative and economically radical. Such was Bl. John Paul II the Great.

This blog post is not the place to analyse the leading candidates for the papacy. But I will say who I think should win. As Benedict said, the world is changing fast and there are great questions to be answered. The Catholic Church is fundamentally a spiritual organisation so we need a pope whose life is firmly rooted in prayer and liturgy. It is only a pope who is seeks his strength in both who will have the interior strength to be up to performing the outward job. Of the various candidates mentioned by  Business Insider, Cardinal Bagnasco seems to me to be the one who understands the importance of the Liturgy most and therefore the one who should be pope. We will see if the Holy Spirit agrees.

As an addendum to the above, and further to my point about the cardinals' worldwide perspective, we would do well in the run-up to the conclave to stop thinking that the next pope will, once elected, reverse established Church teaching as The Daily Beast seems to think might happen. Anyone who thinks that he will declare the contraception or abortion acceptable, homosexuality / same sex marriage good in the eyes of God or female priests possible is deluding themselves. Rome has spoken, and nuances aside, her position is settled. Even if that was not the case, though, I do not think that the next pope will be elected on the basis of his views of the above as they are principally western concerns. These are my views; ultimately, it is God who will decide who leads the Church next and I, personally, am very happy to entrust this most grave of responsibilities to Him.

Malcolm Mann runs the Myrmicat Forever blog

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