Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Next Bishop of Rome

Since the news seems to be dominated by papal speculation and since I've got nothing better to hoot about, I might as well join in.  I imagine that picking a new Pope is not too different from hiring a new manager. I've hired quite a few people in my time, and I usually like to set certain minimum standards for what I consider to be a successful candidate.  I'm hoping that the cardinals that are locked in the Sistine Chapel brought a list like this one with them.

1.  Must have leadership skills. The charisma to inspire combined with the will to get things done.

2.  Must not be a pervert.

3.  Must not feel overly sympathetic to perverts.

4.  Must be willing to make priestly celibacy a matter of conscience and not of obedience.

5.  Must accept that all religions are but creations of mankind and are but imperfect reflections of our attempt to understand, worship, and live as the Creator intended.  As such, doing God's work comes before the Church.

6.  Must understand and accept that when Jesus commanded us to love one another, he meant to love one another, without exception.  A church that excludes anyone or makes clear that it will not give its full love to all, regardless of ethnicity, appearance, sex, or sexuality, is not following this most important commandment.

7.  Must accept that no one person or group of people can possibly understand the ineffable wonder that we call God, and that therefore no one is infallible.  That being the case, while some people may have a degree of moral authority, that authority is one of persuasion and not coercion.

8.  Must understand that different people, all around the world, will understand and express their faith differently.  This reflects the beautiful diversity of our many cultures and peoples.  It is a good thing.  As such, the Bishop of Rome may be in communion with the Patriarch of Moscow, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the Senior Pastor of the Belchertown United Church of Christ, but he cannot command them as if he were a medieval monarch.

Truthfully, I'd be surprised if any of the electors will be carrying such a list.  The most we can reasonably hope for will be someone who meets the top three criteria.  Still, there are many who say that the Church is facing a crisis, and that there is a reform movement among the cardinals.  That's an intriguing notion.

And even if they end up choosing someone who thinks that everything is just fine the way it is now, at least it will be a good show.  The Vatican does pageantry better than anyone.

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