Wednesday, 7:30 p.m:
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews hopes the Cardinal of Milan, Scola, will be chosen. Personally, I hope it will be the Brazilian, and if it is, it will signal recognition by 115 powerful prelates that the future belongs to the Southern hemisphere.
So far I haven’t heard anyone mention the Big Picture, only the sex scandals, yet that should be what observers focus upon. Catholicism has been declining, often replaced, in Africa and Latin America, by one of the many Protestant denominations, while Islam is growing. The next Pope will not only have to slowly move the Church into the twenty-first century in terms of private matters, he will have to steer the world through a growing confrontation with Islam’s splinter groups.
8:12: So the Cardinals split the difference, as they say: Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina is a defender of the poor, but he is against liberation theology and gay marriage. He is fluent in Italian, being not only of Italian origin as are many Argentinians, he was also a disciple of an organization that originated in Italy, Communion and Liberation. As a theological conservative he was close to the previous Pope, Benedict, who resigned. However, this seventy-six year old broke with protocol in his benediction and afterward, asking the faithful to pray for him and thanking them for their welcome.