Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Conclave a la 4

The Channel 4 News site might not have the best grasp of what a conclave is really about .... But the headlines to two blog posts do score highly, I think.

And they’re off! The race to be Pope begins.  The video clip of Cardinal Thomas Collins being door-stepped on his way to the conclave is worth a watch, not only for the skill with which he deals with it in media terms, but also for the skill with which he takes the opportunity to say something to the big wide world about what a conclave is really about. One suspects that the following paragraph was written somewhat tongue in cheek - but even if it wasn't, the inclusion of the clip of Cardinal Collins allows me to forgive:
A conclave is a beauty pageant between over-55s in cassocks, a power struggle which is in theory divinely inspired, which is why Cardinal Collins can say with a straight face that it isn’t politics at all.
Next Pope: church looking for ‘Jesus Christ with an MBA’. I know it will cause scandal to the faithful for me to say so, but I do like the headline. I think it is sufficiently irreverent to be genuinely humorous. The content of this post, though, is less forgiveable than the post described above.
[The Cardinals] will perhaps look for holiness first, the ability to evangelise globally second (presumably including a fluency in English or Spanish) and thirdly, and perhaps no less important, a zeal to reform the scandal-ridden church government or “Curia” here in Rome.
This sounds reasonable-ish, though it generalises the extent of scandal in such a way that one thinks that everyone who works in the Curia is guilty, which I am sure is not the case. But it is matched towards the end of the post with:
Yes, the next Pope will be an old man who has never married or had children; but surely it will be letting the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics down if this conclave does not choose a Pontiff who breathes new life into the institution.
Now, if John Paul II (4 million people visited Rome during his lying in state in 2005) and Benedict XVI (1.2 million people joined him in Cologne for Mass at the end of World Youth Day in August 2005) didn't breath new life into the institution .... it's difficult to understand what the writer means by new life.

Worthy of far more serious comment is the decision of Channel 4 to send Jon Snow to Rome to cover the conclave. As this blog - For whom the white smoke calls - reveals, Jon has such a deep seated hostility towards the subject of his reporting for the next few days (weeks?) that one wonders at the thought processes that could have led to Channel 4 sending him. It's a bit like asking a rugby fanatic (league, not union, much more vicious robust) to report on crown green bowling and expecting them to do a good job.
But the very first time we saw him – 40 minutes after his election had triggered the white smoke – we knew that at 77, heading for 78, he was too old to achieve any of the changes the church so urgently needed.

Several Cardinals told me then that Benedict had been actively keen to become Pope.

But amid God’s refusal to “call him home”, exhausted, he seems to have simply given up. His was a dim Papacy many critics believe.
Again, one needs to mind the Channel 4 reality gap. If Benedict XVI's papacy was "dim", I really would like to know what Jon Snow thinks the word "bright" means!

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