On the eve of the conclave

The pope is dead.

Nev­er before in my life have I heard those words pro­claimed, and for the past two weeks I have been repeat­ing them to myself, over and over again, as if the news were too much to take in all at once, but must soak in grad­u­al­ly like the first spring rain. Cer­tain­ly it is a strange time to be alive, and to be a Catholic. My emo­tions are strong, and mixed. There is sad­ness, grief that a great man is dead, that a holy life is end­ed, that a con­stant in my life is sud­den­ly gone. And there is excite­ment and curios­i­ty about what will hap­pen now, who will emerge from the com­ing con­clave to fill the Chair of Peter, and what aspects of the Church will come to the fore dur­ing the 265th papacy.

But should­n’t I be wor­ried? Should­n’t I be a afraid? The man who emerges lat­er this week upon the bal­cony clad in white to bless the city and the world will be in a posi­tion to influ­ence the course of his­to­ry through­out the world, and the actions he will take (or not take) will rever­ber­ate in the lives of bil­lions of souls. I take some com­fort in my belief that the Holy Spir­it will indeed be at work as the car­di­nals make their choice from among them­selves of the next leader of the Catholic Church. But they are all human, too, and there have been good popes, and many less good, through­out the long his­to­ry of Chris­ten­dom. Who knows which kind we shall see next? I hope and pray that it will be just the man that God knows we need.

Leave a Reply