there's the black smoke! i remember my mother telling me about that tradition, and thinking it was so cool while wondering if i'd go to hell for being excited by things that can only happen once the pope dies.
not that i've been alive for any other papal elections, but i wasn't anticipating a speedy decision. reading the national post this morning, i was pretty disheartened by reports that the cardinals are leaning towards another conservative pope due to all the outpouring of love and admiration for john paul ii. although he was conservative regarding issues such as contraception/euthanasia, and relatively silent on the issue of abusive priests, he is also fondly remembered for his innovative side. most news reports since his death highlight his progressive endeavours: attempting reconciliation with judaism, opposing authoritarian governments in eastern europe, embracing the third world, and focussing on young people.
in his instructional homily to the cardinals, cardinal ratzinger denounces a few hallmarks of contemporary society, including "liberalism" and "collectivism"
liberalism? what does anyone mean by that word anymore? does he mean john locke and js mill? like many americans, does he use liberal as a codeword for the heathen, hollywood-oriented, licentious, democrat-voting masses who don't watch fox news? or does he mean garden-variety liberalism, defined as unrestrained permissiveness?
well, he can't be talking about locke, since he opposes collectivism. defined by the catholic encyclopedia as "the economic side of socialism, without reference to any philosophical, psychological, ethical, or historical assumptions," collectivism runs contrary to catholic doctrine because man's welfare demands private ownership of "stable possessions" and of "lucrative property" (pope leo xiii). since this apparently proceeds logically from the commandment 'you shall not steal,' i guess this isn't just some attempt by previous popes to justify owning a lot of things without having to answer to the "blessed are the humble" stuff in the beatitudes. moreover, this opposition to collectivism is based on the belief that collectivism increases social ills; consequently, morality and religion dictate it ought to be avoided. all this is very tenuous indeed, and i think the church ought to re-articulate its position regarding 'collectivism without communism' given that many biblical teachings are congruent with an ascetic ideal of denying the self in order to help the soul, and catholics are particularly encouraged to ensure salvation through service, good works, and promoting justice. unless there is legislated athiesm, there is no real reason for the church to oppose positive liberty in favour of negative liberty.
in fact, in the 1981 laborum exercens, john paul ii advances a modernist and reasonably collectivist conception of labour:
"THROUGH WORK man must earn his daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family ... Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons."
so i am wondering if ratzinger's apparent confidence in libertarianism and the free market is more prevalent in the college of cardinals than john paul ii's cosmopolitan collectivism, motivated by "disproportionate distribution of wealth and poverty and the existence of
some countries and continents that are developed and of others that are
not call[ing] for a leveling out and for a search for ways to ensure just
development for all." (laborum exercens, 1981)
as one of those impatient/disillusioned/relativist/whatever western european/north american nominally-catholic folk, i'm hoping we see a pope willing to re-articulate church teachings on matters political, especially relating to international development. mindful of europe's strong committment to international aid, it is heartening to see former colonial/missionary states assisting the regions which inequitably sustained their economies. moreover, i'd like to see the church re-evaluate the use of condoms in order to prevent the spread of std's. since i can't really interfere in the election, i guess i'm cheering for whoever cardinal maria martini is supporting, given his committment to dialogue and openness.
depending on how literally one takes the prophecies of st. malachy, this is our last pope before st. peter comes back to earth on judgement day. granted, some theologians believe st. malachy did not specify there would not be other popes between st. peter and 'gloria olivae,' the last pope mentioned on his list.