Papabiles: A Known Unknown

by Mike on March 11, 2013

in Religion

The Papal Conclave is scheduled to begin tomorrow and I’m on the edge of my seat in anticipation.  As someone who grew up with Pope John Paul II leading the Church for over a quarter of a century, a new Pope isn’t something I’ve seen very often in my lifetime.

Like many Catholics, I’ve had a hard time resisting the urge to speculate about which Cardinal will be the next Holy Father.  As tempting as it is to root for your favorite (I love Cardinal Dolan even though the more I think about it, I wonder if it’s even appropriate to have a favorite), it is important to remember something that Matthew Archibold explains in his latest article:  we have no way of knowing who the next Pope will be.

As political junkies know, it is difficult to predict any future event that depends on the future decisions of individuals with free will.  In politics, no matter how many polls are published, focus groups are observed, or anecdotes are overanalyzed, predicting the future decisions of a group of people is no easy task.

The Conclave is even more difficult because all deliberations and voting are done in secret, and the process itself is guided by the Holy Spirit.  Political notions of factions, debate, compromise, and even history which provide some help in poltical analysis provide no help at all in this context.  Three popes ago, it was unthinkable that a non-Italian could become Pope.  Now, we may see our third non-Italian in a row.

The fact is, Archibold is right:  only God knows who the next Pope is.

Hat tip: Creative Minority Report

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