Saturday, March 9, 2013

Koreans and Election of the Pope

The  cardinals of the Catholic Church, as they gather together at the Vatican to elect the next pope, are being treated like Hollywood celebrities. The world press is approaching these men in red and asking for their opinions on both secular and religious matters, and, of course, the currently most urgent question: who will be the next pope. The desk columnist of the Catholic Times reveals his  thinking on the all-important issue of selecting the next temporal leader of the Church.

In the  recent elections for president, we saw,  the two parties either affirming their own candidate or trying to diminish the status of the opposition. The elections, says the columnist, were as enjoyable to most Koreans as a horse race, as expected there is little interest on the part of the ordinary Korean on the election for pope.  

For Catholics, what is of interest may be simply the awe of the unknown surrounding the election of the pope. Many see the the secret election at the conclave as the work of the Holy Spirit, as something sacred, worthy of respect. And though well over a hundred cardinals will vote for the next pope, most Catholics believe that the ultimate person selected will be decided by the Holy Spirit. But the columnist reminds us that the election of the pope is done by humans, and he knows it is impossible to avoid the human element in the election. He believes that to think so is to be blind to history or simply mentally lazy. In any event, the columnist recommends that we remain immune to the wild, and sometimes not so wild, conjectures of the Western media concerning the "most likely candidates."

One cardinal when asked what happens in the conclave answered jokingly that not much happens, that it was rather boring: "We pray and vote, wait...pray and vote, wait...." More than a mystical experience, he said it's a time for patience and endurance, love for the Church, and trust in God.  

Each cardinal is thinking: in what direction do I want the Church to go? What are the areas of greatest concern for the Church in its relationship with the world in the second decade, and beyond, of the 21st century? What kind of personality and character, spirituality and tendencies, do I want in the new pope?

The mass media is giving us the pros and cons of the different candidates; the cardinals, for the most part, are doing this all internally. The media continues to focus its attention on the scandals that have plagued the Vatican.The columnist recommends that we develop an immunity to this static and talk without any foundation in reality, and even to talk with some basis in reality. And trust in God that in his providence all will work out for the best.