The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball


The next Pope

The Holy Father, the Great John Paul II, has passed to his next life. We no longer need to pray for him, but to him, for his intercession on our behalf as he most surely is now in a position to do so.

I am not going to write some glowing hagiography (and I am correctly using that term, no sarcasm quote marks anywhere near that word). The Pope knows what I think of him. I cannot write as well as others have on this point and a showy display of mourning from me would be a bit unbecoming.

That said: I have turned my thoughts to who will be the next pope. Not in the sense of internal Vatican politics and machinations, mind you, but just reflecting on what the next pope will mean to the Church. If you genuinely believe, as I do, that the election of a pope is guided by the Holy Spirit, then you have faith that the correct decision will be made.

I fully expect the next pope to be an orthodox Catholic from the Third World, but it is not up to me. Another well-traveled, intellectually vigorous hardline traditionalist would fit my preferences, but is that what is best at this point in time? Perhaps the next pope needs to be a mere caretaker, someone whose brief papacy is needed as a respite after the vigorous reign of the charismatic John Paul II. Given that this Pope will cast an enormous shadow over his successors, perhaps we need someone relatively bland and colorless so that we will recognize the next charismatic, transformative figure who is so elevated. Maybe the next pope will be a liberal "reformer," whose role will be to bring back into the flock the more salvageable among the more worldly. I don't know, but if you trust the Holy Spirit, you must believe what needs to happen is what will happen.

The great baseball analyst Bill James once remarked that baseball managers are hired and fired for a reason. That once a manager does his job, the needs of the organization change and the next manager will need to bring different strengths to the table. Perhaps that is the way with popes. The enormous contribution of Karol Wojtyla changed the needs of the flock. We definitely needed him in 1978. Given that we could not have him forever, it will be interesting to see what the Holy Spirit deems we need in light of the preceding 26 years.
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