Let me confess at the very beginning that since I’m not a Catholic I have not been as emotionally invested in the Papal election this year as are millions of people worldwide. But in spite of that minor difference, I understand completely what a historic and monumental moment this is for a major section of the Christian world.
The Church today stands at a precarious precipice and there’s no denying that these are difficult times. The last pope was supposed to help reconcile the church with the modern world. Seven years later there has been hardly any progress. Despite the generous amounts of criticism levelled against the church from various quarters, there are progressive voices within the Church today that are calling for an open and honest discussion of its future. These forward thinkers have reached out to other sections of the Christian community – the Protestants and the orthodox to take collective measures towards a more united community.
So, what kind of pope does the world need in a time such as this? What are some of the characteristics the new Pope should possess? Here’s how I see it. Whoever is chosen as Pope by those cardinals locked away inside the cavernous Sistine Chapel must have the ability to address the greatest issues that face us today. I won’t get into the details of these issues, but to sum them up they essentially deal with – justice, peace, free will, tolerance and acceptance. There is no doubt that at this crucial point in the world, millions will look to him to be a Pope who will get down to dealing with these pulsating issues that have been shaking the foundations of the Vatican for a while now.
The new Pope will have to be strong. I would personally love to see a younger Pope emerge from that exalted balcony after the white smoke has evaporated. I think the image of the wrinkled old father figures that have led in the past have ironically mirrored their weakness and inability to address public outcry and the avalanche of criticism and cynicism that comes from the global community in these technologically advanced times. Twitter, Facebook, social media, blogs, news channels, paparazzi – there’s criticism from all sides. The new pope must be strong enough to deal with all of that and then some. I’m not saying an older Pope can’t do this. But I hope he’s the kind of man who will embrace all of this calmly and with faith.
I’ve read many hypotheses, several blogs and have heard plenty of papal predictions on the tele, but something I feel very strongly about is that in spite of the fact that these are modern times that bring with it a host of new-age issues that an open-minded Pope will have to deal with, the world today needs a Pope who will be able to uphold and expound basic Biblical doctrines in spite of the frenzy that’s sure to go on all around him.
As long as the new Pope reads the signs of the times and leads the church with truth and sincerity, it will hardly matter if he is a conservative or a liberal. He should just be one who understands the hearts and minds of people and nations but will depend on Christ for his wisdom and guidance.
I don’t envy the scarlet clad cardinals locked away in that intimidating sanctuary. The eyes of the world are on them and Michelangelo’s fresco of The Last Judgment looms large. In a strange way their human presence seems to mingle with the images of the divine, hopefully that should help them make their tough choice after all, these are crucial moments and their decision will steer the future of an entire religious community. Now that’s what you call pressure!
Anyway that’s it, that’s all I’ve got….back to watching BBC’s ‘Smoke Cam’!