March 12, 2013

"Every conclave... is a unique microculture, and you can’t predict what will happen within it simply by reading the pre-conclave tea leaves."

"Things happen inside conclaves, away from the world and the buzz, that can shape papal elections — and pontificates — in surprising ways."

39 comments:

Farmer said...

I picked Scola a couple weeks ago but now I don't know. If voting goes past Thursday I imagine it'll end up being a dark horse.

bpm4532 said...

I really could care less. Here I agree with Marx (Karl and Groucho) that religion is the opiate of the masses and "Beyond the Alps lies more Alps, and the Lord helps those that Alp themselves"

Greg Hlatky said...

"He who enters Conclave as a pope leaves as a cardinal."

Curious George said...

Timothy Dolan. Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap! Timothy Dolan. Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!

sydney said...

God works in mysterious ways. I read a novel once about a pope who was chosen from among the laity. It was fiction of course, but apparently it can happen. For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the book, and I can't find it on The Google.

sydney said...

Oh, here it is - The Accidental Pope. It isn't very well written, but is mildly entertaining.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

What happens in the conclave stays in the conclave.

rehajm said...

I like pontificates as a noun better

edutcher said...

Amazing how many non-Catholics have an opinion.

The irony is this will have an effect centuries down the road that a lot of other things over which most people obsess much more every day.

Thorley Winston said...

Amazing how many non-Catholics have an opinion.

What’s so amazing about that?



Mitch H. said...

What’s so amazing about that?

Not technically any of our business? But I have to admit a great deal of curiosity. Everyone loves a horse-race, especially if there are mint juleps at hand.

edutcher said...

Thorley Winston said...

Amazing how many non-Catholics have an opinion.

What’s so amazing about that?


In the sense they sound off on something about which they know so little.

Thorley Winston said...

Not technically any of our business?

I have to disagree. The Pope is the head of both a sovereign nation with whom our country has diplomatic ties and is also the earthly leader of a religion with over a billion adherents. Either one of these facts makes it a legitimate matter of public interest.

traditionalguy said...

The Church would probably say that the Spirit of Jesus is the head of His Church and they let Him make the decision picking His representative.

That works for me. After all, it is a Faith.

Sorun said...

Oh man, I only have a few more hours to pick my Conclave Fantasy Team.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I made a prediction on February 11--the day the pope announced his abdication.

If it proves right, I'll trot it out; otherwise, did I mention my blogger account gets hacked a lot?

dc said...

I'm willing to risk a buck on Card. Mahony of LA if someone is willing to give me a million to one odds.

Fr Martin Fox said...

The coverage in the secular press makes me laugh. Why in the world do people think it's worthwhile to write the hackneyed, "the pope should get with the times" article?

Today on NPR, the hostess interviews someone from Pew Research, that asked Catholics about what they want. Even the hostess was forced to say something like, uh, I don't think the pope is likely to change church teachings on abortion and homosexuality.

I have an idea for one of those surveys:

"When the Catholic Church offers a teaching on God, sacraments, or morality, what should it base those teachings on (pick one):

* What Jesus taught, as far as we can tell.

* Opinion surveys.

Patrick said...

"When the Catholic Church offers a teaching on God, sacraments, or morality, what should it base those teachings on (pick one):

* What Jesus taught, as far as we can tell.

* Opinion surveys.


I'm not sure you'd get an overwhelming favorite, even with Catholics, I'm afraid.

Aww, that was sooo looong ago...

Fr Martin Fox said...

Patrick:

No doubt.

However, asking the question my way brings the key issues to the surface.

Mark Justice said...

"When the Catholic Church offers a teaching on God, sacraments, or morality, what should it base those teachings on (pick one):

* What Jesus taught, as far as we can tell.

* Opinion surveys.


How about putting an option in for what actually happens in the Catholic church:

* 2000 years of historical cruft.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mark:

I have a Masters of Divinity and a Masters in Scripture, and I have no idea what "cruft" is.

Mark Justice said...

Do you have a dictionary? Access to Google?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mark:

OK, you got me; I thought it was a typo, but I couldn't deduce what the word was supposed to be.

Mark Justice said...

And there I was wondering why you were pulling lines from your c.v.

Unknown said...

-----The Church would probably say that the Spirit of Jesus is the head of His Church -----

While yes, Jesus is the head of the Church, its more complex and mystical than that.

Remember the Catholic Trinity? When Catholic religious groups like the conclave meet to make a decision they appeal to the Holy Spirit, which is Sacrament, Wisdom and Holiness.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/what-the-holy-spirit-does-at-the-papal-conclave/2013/03/12/455f0746-8ac2-11e2-8d72-dc76641cb8d4_story_1.html

http://www.newsday.com/opinion/oped/schmalz-the-role-of-the-holy-spirit-inside-the-conclave-1.4800161

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mark:

Yeah, well...God bless you too. And have a nice day.

Mark Justice said...

Martin:

I wasn't trying to "get you". Cruft is a perfectly cromulent word. I also merely thought it was amusing that you were throwing out your academic credentials at the same time as displaying your ignorance in at least one small way. I apologize that it apparently came off in an unintended way.

God bless you as well. And have a nice night, week, year, life, etc.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mark:

It's a pretty obscure word, but that you caught me out is a reasonable joke; I don't mind that.

But--it's also a pretty insulting word to apply to the Catholic Faith.

So thanks for the insult, glad to amuse you.

Mark Justice said...

Well, if you prefer to use the word tradition, as Catholics seem to, go right ahead. I'm merely pointing out that a great deal of what the Catholic church teaches is based neither on "what Jesus taught, as far as we can tell", nor on "opinion surveys"; it's only fair to comment on the false dichotomy which you set up.

I long for a Catholic church which is willing to admit for a great many more of its teachings than it does: "This is what we teach; we like it, it doesn't contradict Jesus' teachings, but neither does it follow from them. This other, different, teaching might well be correct, as it also doesn't contradict Jesus' teachings either, but, again, we like ours." Such a church would actually deserve the appellation "catholic". However, the new pope is no more likely to do that than to change Catholic teachings on abortion and homosexuality.

We all live with disappointment, I suppose.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Well, Mark, there's the problem with using a spiffy new word that hasn't really settled in.

According to Wikipedia:

"Cruft is jargon for anything that is leftover, redundant and getting in the way. It is used particularly for superseded and unemployed technical and electronic hardware and useless, superfluous or dysfunctional elements in computer software."

According to Dictionary.com, it is:

"1. n. An unpleasant substance. The dust that gathers under your bed is cruft; the TMRC Dictionary correctly noted that attacking it with a broom only produces more.
2. n. The results of shoddy construction.
3. vt. [from `hand cruft', pun on `hand craft'] To write assembler code for something normally (and better) done by a compiler (see hand-hacking).
4. n. Excess; superfluous junk; used esp. of redundant or superseded code.
5. [University of Wisconsin] n. Cruft is to hackers as gaggle is to geese; that is, at UW one properly says "a cruft of hackers".

Fr Martin Fox said...

So when you equate -- which is what I might reasonably take your use of "cruft" with tradition -- with what is "useless, superfluous junk,"...

Perhaps you can see why that's insulting.

It also betrays a lack of understanding of what Tradition is. From Latin, to hand down.

I don't know if you're Catholic. If you are, I'm sorry you've been taught wrong things about what Tradition is.

If you're not Catholic, why should the Catholic Church conform to your expectations. Can we talk about your religion, and my expectations for it?

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Mark Justice said...

I'm not Roman Catholic, but I am catholic, in the sense of being part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church. I am also quite aware of what "tradition" means. (By the way, the Latin traditio can also mean "surrender" as well as "instruction"! We might as well cover all bases.) Just because I disagree with the standard Catholic viewpoint on the standing of Catholic "tradition" does not mean I have "been taught wrong things about what Tradition is", so there's really no need for you to feel sorry about that.

In any case, it's fine for the Catholic church to teach whatever it wants, for whatever reason it wants, even, of course, tradition. I, in fact, have no expectations that the Catholic church will conform to anything I might hope. Why should I? And if the Catholic church isn't willing to say, "Yes, these of our teachings are based on the the teachings of Jesus; and these other teachings are based on our tradition, but these alternatives also don't contradict what we know Jesus' teachings to be", well, if truth and honesty are reason enough to admit such, why should what I want have any weight? I certainly don't expect it to.

As far as my religion goes, say whatever you want, and expect whatever you want. I am a Christian, although not of any particular denomination, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, or whatever. I grew up going to a Pentecostal church. At various times in my life, I have spent several years attending a Catholic church, a Baptist church, and a Presbyterian church. I have been happy in each--for what that's worth--and found that there was a great deal of value in each. I have also learned a great deal about what it means to be a Christian from each, and that they each have their own traditions.

Essentially, I consider myself catholic, a Christian who sees value in the different emphases of the different denominations, each playing their role in the universal church. As such, I think it's important to identify the core unity of the one church in which I believe. I think that honesty and truth requires admitting the distinction between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of a particular denomination within His church.

Oh, and I know that catholic comes from the Greek καθολικός, from κατά + ὅλος, meaning "concerning the whole".

Fr Martin Fox said...

Well, Mark, your analysis--that the Church ought to acknowledge teaching things that don't come from Christ--has a lot of merit; it has only one defect, that of not being true.

Now, that you don't think so is worth some note, but the Church has been at this for awhile, and she is well able to make the case for what she teaches coming from Christ. I am persuaded, and so are quite a lot of other folks, who have taken a good deal of time to examine the matter.

Mark Justice said...

Again, you avoid the point.

We have quite a bit of eyewitness testimony as to what Jesus said and did. However, He did not answer every question, cover every topic. In many cases, there is more than one possible answer which is consistent with what we know Jesus to have taught and said. Over the centuries, the Catholic church has accumulated quite a bit of "tradition", its answers to some of these questions. If it is your position that it is honest, it is the truth, to say that these two different provenances are the same, so be it.

It is nice to be assured that there are quite a lot of folks "who have taken a good deal of time to examine the matter". Your c.v. seems to indicate you are one of them. I hope you can share the proceeds of your examination to the point at hand.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mark said:

Mark, you're full of something; I'll say yourself.

I didn't "avoid the point"; I didn't agree with you.

Let's examine something you said:

We have quite a bit of eyewitness testimony as to what Jesus said and did. However, He did not answer every question, cover every topic.

So what?

Are you, for example, suggesting that because we don't have anything documenting him addressing "drunken driving," that any statement by the Church on that problem therefore has no connection to the Son of God? Is that the sort of argument you're making? If so, please don't waste my time, or yours, or anyone elses, for something that should have been left in seventh grade.

Of course, I'm just guessing there, because you didn't offer any examples.

I'm not going to make your arguments for you. So I'll make my own: what the Catholic Church teaches comes from Jesus Christ. The Church is the Body of Christ.

You claim we teach things that don't come from Jesus Christ. Feel free to offer something concrete.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mark:

Let's address another silly statement of yours.

It is nice to be assured that there are quite a lot of folks "who have taken a good deal of time to examine the matter". Your c.v. seems to indicate you are one of them. I hope you can share the proceeds of your examination to the point at hand.

It's not an assurance, and while I'm flattered you think I've accomplished something, all I am doing is stating simple fact.

You know, now that I think about it, you really don't know how to discuss this subject without being awfully insulting, do you?

Here's what I mean. You can't imagine that in all these two thousand years, as the Catholic Church has--in its councils, in the teachings of the "Fathers," in the reflections of the saints...

That anyone ever thought it was important to reflect deeply on what Jesus Christ said and did?

No, that task remained undone until God sent us you. You are the one who suddenly discovered the scandal of the Catholic Church--that she invents doctrines, without reference to the teachings of Christ; ah, but you've figured it out! Aren't you clever!

If your interest is sincere--and I hope it is, but your manner here makes me extremely doubtful--then you don't need me to do anything.

May I suggest you pick up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. May I suggest, where you think the Catholic Church offers a teaching not rooted in Jesus Christ, you actually read what the Church teaches--not what others say about it. If you have an issue with, say, the Church's teaching on contraception, then read Humanae Vitae and follow backward what Pope Paul VI cited when he wrote it.

Just in the last 30 years, we've had two brilliant popes who have written quite a lot, explicating Catholic belief, and showing where it comes from.

That's if you're sincerely interested. I hope you are; I hope I've mistaken you. But then, all I've got to go on is your manner here, which has been poor, in my estimation.

Mark Justice said...

Martin:

When I said:

It is nice to be assured that there are quite a lot of folks "who have taken a good deal of time to examine the matter".

I was responding to:

I am persuaded, and so are quite a lot of other folks, who have taken a good deal of time to examine the matter.

The implication of what you said is that if I (or anyone else) am not persuaded, it is because I have not bothered to take the time to examine the matter. You accuse me of being insulting, but your every response basically says that if I don't agree with some Catholic teaching, all I need do is read 2000 years of accumulated writing, and then I'll be fine. You then accuse me of thinking that I'm the first person who's ever bothered to ponder Christ and his teaching? I honestly can't see how what I wrote could possibly be read that way.

Further, I have read the Catechism of Catholic Church. I got it when I attended an RCIA class. My questions stem from things that were taught in the first meeting of that class, years ago. The class had a long discussion that day about the source of Christian knowledge and teaching. It emphasized two sources: the Bible, and church tradition. The Catholic church was then contrasted with other denominations which lack the Catholic tradition as a source of knowledge and teaching. Very well.

The thing is, when I've actually gone back and read some of the suggested important writings (such as Thomas Aquinas or Augustine), I don't find them nearly as convincing as I'm assured they are. I do agree that, as a whole, they hang together nicely; they're consistent for the most part, both among themselves, and with the Bible.

But I've also read writings from the traditions of other church denominations. They also are by people who've reflected deeply on what Jesus Christ said and did. They also hang together nicely, being consistent for the most part among themselves and with the Bible. But some teachings of some denominations are not consistent with other teachings of other denominations.

Now, none of these people merely invent doctrines, without reference to the teachings of Christ. Not the Catholic thinkers, but not the others, either. They've all struggled with trying to answer questions, and necessarily within the framework of the teachings of Christ. In many cases, they've come to different answers. Is it not natural to think about how this can be?

You request something concrete, as is only fair. You suggest the topic of contraception, but, to be honest, it's not a topic I've thought a whole lot about, probably because it has never had any direct bearing on my life, and is unlikely ever to. So, I confess, I have never read Humanae Vitae.

If I may, I'll suggest another possibility: The Catholic church teaches that Catholics are not to have communion with nonCatholics, whether in a Catholic church or any other. It doesn't appear that Jesus said anything specifically on point here, and different traditions have different answers. Why is it wrong to say "The Catholic church teaches Catholics not to commune with nonCatholic Christians, whatever their standing, although, admittedly, Jesus didn't, so far as we know, command this."?