fredag 22 december 2017

Who will the next pope be?

A group of us were discussing this question the other evening. These are the odds given at the betting website Paddy Power. It is probably as good a guide as any, unless some new Cardinals are named.
  1. Cardinal Tagle (Phillipines) 4-1
  2. Cardinal Marc Ouellet (Canada) 6-1
  3. Cardinal Peter Turkson (Ghana)  6-1
  4. Cardinal Sean O’Malley (United States) 15-2
  5. Archbishop Angelo Scola (Italy) 15-2
  6. Cardinal Christoph Schonborn (Austria) 9-1
For traditionalists, the dream scenario is Cardinal Sarah (French Guinea) or Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit (Sri Lanka, both 22-1) or Cardinal Francis Arinze (Nigeria, 25-1).

It is claimed that the decision is the Holy Spirit’s, so any result is possible. However, would a “Benedict XVII” fare any better than Benedict XVI in the Vatican? And his successor in turn? Athanasius Schneider as “Benedict XVIII”?

Whether the decision really is the Holy Spirit’s is another question. It all hangs ultimately on a particular interpretation of Matthew 16:18-19. Other interpretations are possible. At one time there were three popes. For centuries the papacy was a trophy that was rotated among aristocratic Roman families ie Roman families with large and valuable land holdings. Extreme privilege, and extreme poverty, are not starts in life which preclude holiness — far from it — but the saints seem mostly to have come from somewhere in between, with a loving and intimate family background.

The text of Mt 16:18-19 is, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Whether the infallibly Papal monarchical model of the church is what was really intended by those words has been endlessly debated and will no doubt continue to be for a long time to come.

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