Showing posts with label election of the pope. Show all posts
Showing posts with label election of the pope. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The Sistine Chapel, which will be closed to visitors for the duration of the papal conclave, is being readied for occupation by the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church when they gather to elect a new pope.  Along with the mandatory oath of secrecy taken by all the cardinals before official meetings begin, security to prevent leaks through electronic devices will be put in place in the Sistine Chapel.
Yet while the world will primarily notice the familiar four rows of tables lining the chapel's sides to the rood screen, the most intense piece of the preparation literally begins at ground level – as in 2005, a whole-room platform will be built to lift the floor and provide for the installation of a warren of signal-jammers underneath to ensure that the voting site is kept free of any attempt at wireless communication. 

The jammers likewise surrounded the Domus Sancta Marthae last time to maintain, but given the degree of technological evolution over the last eight years, the de-bugging operation at this Conclave – both to maintain its secrecy and keep the cardinals out of contact with the world – promises to be ever more intense, and is likely to include the confiscation of all devices belonging to the electors before the voting begins. 
Charles Pierce at his Esquire blog asks why the intense emphasis on secrecy.
We are told repeatedly that the cardinal-electors fulfill their office at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (Even silly American TV reporters repeat this, whether they believe it or not.) That being the case, why is it necessary to cloak the work of the Spirit in secrecy? Scripture tells us that the Spirit is available to us all. It came upon the disciples and the first thing they did was run right out and proclaim it, gobsmacking the daylights out of the people who'd come to Jerusalem just to buy a goat or two.
Exactly.  What is so secret about the movement of the Holy Spirit that The Clan of the Red Beanie (Thank you, Charles) must conduct the business of electing a new pope under tight security?  Of course, word will get out.  The princes of the Roman Catholic Church are not entirely above harmless leaks about the process, and not long after the election, we'll be reading articles and a little later entire books about what took place inside the walls of the Sistine Chapel. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013


...and asks forgiveness.
A Scottish cardinal on Sunday acknowledged having engaged in unspecified sexual misbehavior, apologized for his actions, and promised to stay out of the church's public life in a statement that comes at an awkward time for the Vatican.

O'Brien initially rejected the claims, saying he was resigning because he did not want to distract from the upcoming conclave of cardinals that is due to pick a successor to Benedict XVI, who resigned the papacy Thursday. O'Brien also became the first cardinal to recuse himself from the conclave because of personal scandal; other voting-age cardinals have in the past stayed home because of infirmity or because they were prevented by their governments from participating.

On Sunday, the Catholic church in Scotland issued a statement quoting O'Brien as saying that there had been times "that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."

"To those I have offended, I apologize and ask forgiveness," the statement continued. "To the Catholic church and people of Scotland, I also apologize. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic church in Scotland."
There will be no basilica in Rome for Cardinal O'Brien.  How fraught the conclave to elect the next pope will be with pressure to assure that whoever is elected will not be accused of misconduct in the near or far future.  I pray that those who have secrets in their pasts that could shock or embarrass the church further will be honest enough to take themselves out of the running.  I have good friends who are members of the Roman Catholic Church, and I care about them and wish for them better and more peaceful times.