As I write this Wednesday morning, the College of Cardinals (whose sports teams are named, ironically, the Cardinals) have announced the results of their second ballot of the Papal Conclave at the Vatican. And, as of this writing, there is no new Pope selected.
This is the fourth Papal Conclave of my lifetime. I know the names of the Popes of my lifetime (John VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI), I know they were/are two Italians, a Pole, and a German.
Yet, I'm not Roman Catholic. I'm a Lutheran, and like many American Roman Catholics, I feel the Roman Catholic Church is just too ridiculous acting in their lack of progressive attitudes towards women, gays, and the sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy.
So while I follow it, I don't really get it. Kind of like how I, like many Americans, follow the exploits of Britain's royal family. Didn't we separate from Britain due to religious intolerance? What's the deal with following the fate of a Church which is, from this outsider's view, pretty blinking intolerant?
OK, so, Roman Catholicism is still the religion of 1.2 billion people. And many Catholics outside the US don't subscribe to American Catholics' views of the Church. It is possibly a more powerful institution in terms of the ability to hold and sway public opinion as any government in the world.
Coming from a very highly uneducated point of view, I think we in the US are fooling ourselves if we think the next Pope is going to be radically progressive. The best one can hope for is, possibly, the first Pope ever not born in Europe. And I think that any thoughts that the Pope will be an American are true pipe dreams. A Pope from a developing nation, possibly one in Africa or Asia, would be a magnificent symbol for the world, a grand vessel for God's message.
Whether you buy into the notion of the divine or not, the choice of this College of Cardinals will have fascinating ramifications for the entire world for decades to come. May the choice be made with enlightenment.