Dawkins and the False Dichotomy »« Wingnut on Wingnut Crime: Ham vs Jeffress

The Papal Conclave and the Holy Spirit

The conclave to select the next pope is over and, as always, it was quite an amusing affair. We’ve got pomp and circumstance, lots of funny hats, social media blackouts and high-tech sweeps for listening devices in the Sistine Chapel. And lots of political maneuvering:

In Catholic theology, as in the popular imagination, the closed-door conclave to elect a new pope is supposed to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

There’s no horse-trading or lobbying, no insider deal-making or outside influences allowed. Just red-robed cardinals solemnly entering the Sistine Chapel, accompanied only by prayers and their consciences, sitting beneath Michelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgment and discerning God’s will on who should be the next successor to St. Peter.

The true Catholic believers, of course, think this is all irrelevant because the Holy Spirit is in charge of the whole thing:

The decision of who will be our next Pope must and will be decided by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit alone. All the other media noise and chatter must be silenced so they Spirit can do it’s work and be the only influencing factor in the decision.

If the Holy Spirit is the one who really decides who will be the next pope, and the men (only men, of course) who vote on it all think they’re being guided by the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t the vote be unanimous? Or are some of the cardinals lying or delusional when they claim that the Holy Spirit talks to them? And how can one tell that the Holy Spirit is influencing the events when they look absolutely indistinguishable from how they would look if there was no Holy Spirit at all?

Comments

  1. says

    So, I left this elsewhere and I think it bears repeating:

    “Go ahead, make jokes; chatter on about whether fawning, vapid CBS coverage of the new pope-alope is of any interest to the rest of the planet; ignore the ONLY thing that really matters!

    The new pope, Pope SpeedyGonzales? Know what he’s gonna do, senor? He’s gonna make it a MORTAL SIN for MurKKKan Cath-O-Licks to not ADOPT allathem dislegal hickspanics who are sneakin’ in here to steal our jobs, healthcare and WIMMIN!

    Yeah, yuk it up; you’ll be laughin’ out the other side of your burrito when
    they take over the U.S. and impose Canon Law!!”

    I just wanted to “scoop” Whirled Nuts Daily. BTW, Ed, does “Whirled Nuts” refer to the group of whackadoodles over at Pornstache Joes KKKlub for the KKKlueless or is it a reference to their balls having been in a Cuisanart?

  2. a miasma of incandescent plasma says

    All the other media noise and chatter must be silenced so they Spirit can do it’s work

    Yeah, tell all those young wipper-snappers to keep it down in there! And stay off the Spirit’s lawn!

  3. Michael Heath says

    Andrew Sullivan’s been aggregating news about the new Pope. It’s a truly revolting affair; more like the ordination of a head mafioso of fascist dictator than moral leader. And then you consider the fact that people living in Latin America are increasingly attracted to pentecostalism and you find yourself tempted to root for the RCC as the lesser of two vile evil movements.

  4. says

    Hey, Brett McCoy’s comment just made me think of the REAL frikkin’ reason for Pope Pedophileprotector’s resignation. He’s goin’ fullbore Palin! The Papal gig has a lot of perks–shoes and hats being paramount among them–but there ain’t a lot of the do-re-mi. By dumpin’ the day job (which, let’s face it is a lot of hard work) the Expopester can spend his time doin’ reality tv and public appearances at various events. Besides, now he can dish on all of his predecessors:

    “Innocent I? “Innocent my royal deutscher arsch.”

    ” Cesare Borgia? a momma’s boy; Lucrezia, npw THERE was a Borgia!, (rimshot), Hey, I’ll be here until I ascend into heaven, try the eucharist!”.

  5. jba55 says

    “shouldn’t the vote be unanimous?”

    Yes, it should. I’m guessing this discrepancy is where the ritual burning of the ballots comes from, that way the vote goes however they say it does.

    “how can one tell that the Holy Spirit is influencing the events when they look absolutely indistinguishable from how they would look if there was no Holy Spirit at all?”

    The Holy Spirit lets them know of course! In Mormonism it’s called “the still, small voice” and it’s supposed to “guide” you. I never heard it, but I was assured I was just listening wrong.

  6. says

    Ever since the 3rd century, it has been a principle of Christian doctrine that the Holy Spirit speaks only through the will of the assembly. This principle arose in response to Monatism, which held that the Holy Spirit continued to speak through individual prophets. It served as the basis for asserting that the Council of Nicaea in 325 accurately and properly reflected God’s will in setting Christian doctrine. So while it is silly, it is a very ancient and traditional form of silly.

  7. raven says

    It is going to be another weird old man Pope. No surprise.

    The only question is how weird this one is.

    And how long he lasts. Francis I is 76.

  8. says

    Forget the procedural bullshit — here’s what Ophelia had to say about the actual result:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/pick-a-country-with-a-military-junta-in-its-recent-past/#comments

    Apparently this Pope actively collaborated with the Argentine junta, hid political prisoners from human-rights lawyers in his “holiday home,” at the behest of said junta, and ratted out a couple of priests who were suspected of being commies.

    Meet the new boss — quite possibly worse than the old boss.

  9. freemage says

    As others have noted elsewhere, there are some serious concerns about this Pope in relation to human rights–specifically, allegations that he was responsible for green-lighting the anti-Peronist military junta’s kidnapping of two priests who had continued to ally with the ‘other side’ of the Dirty War. I’m hoping that, now that this guy’s in the catbird seat, these allegations get a more complete hearing than they have so far.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    (crossposted from Pharyngula)
    Since El Jefe gave the dictatorship green light to arrest two Argentinian monks (who were never seen again) I suggest we pronounce his title “FecalFink I”
    Feel free to come up with more suitable nicknames.

  11. Mr Ed says

    I have the same interest in the new pope that I have in the next CEO of Apple. I’m sort of curious about what they will come out with but in the end I’m not buying

  12. says

    Here’s a tweet from Erick Erickson:

    That lefties are accusing the new pope of handing over lefties to the right wing junta for execution makes me adore the new pope.

    Oh yeah, no right-wing knee-kerk tribalism there, nosireebob, just the Holy Spirit in action…

  13. thumper1990 says

    From the comments at that Catholic Patheos thread:

    ,blockquote>One quibble: the Cardinals, not the Holy Spirit, elect the Pope, This is important to keep in mind, otherwise we’d need to say that the Holy Spirit *chose* all those less than sterling Renaissance Popes, rather than saying what the world needs to hear: that the Holy Spirit guides the Church and protects and assures her teachings even when the Cardinals pick a loser Pope.

    What is it with the religious and the Argument from Consequences? They can’t seem to stop. I mean, he’s right, but for all the wrong reasons.

  14. thumper1990 says

    Oops. repost.

    From the comments at that Catholic Patheos thread:

    One quibble: the Cardinals, not the Holy Spirit, elect the Pope, This is important to keep in mind, otherwise we’d need to say that the Holy Spirit *chose* all those less than sterling Renaissance Popes, rather than saying what the world needs to hear: that the Holy Spirit guides the Church and protects and assures her teachings even when the Cardinals pick a loser Pope.

    What is it with the religious and the Argument from Consequences? They can’t seem to stop. I mean, he’s right, but for all the wrong reasons.

  15. says

    Since El Jefe gave the dictatorship green light to arrest two Argentinian monks (who were never seen again)…

    I recently heard the monks did reappear some time later (five months or five years). But yeah, this guy is a scumbag, and his chosen name is an insult to one of their more decent saints.

    But hey, at least we can’t accuse him of conspiring to hide priests from secular authorities, can we? He sure didn’t do any of that in Argentina. Maybe that’s why he got elected — a perfectly sensible overcompensation for the past wrongs of the Church. Or something…

  16. unbound says

    Not only should the vote be unanimous if the holy spirit was guiding them, shouldn’t the vote have been nearly instantaneous, not going on for days at a time?

  17. busterggi says

    If its the Holy Spirit, and I still find it suspicious that the spook doesn’t even have a name, then why a conclave at all? Shouldn’t every media outlet’s headline be automatically filled in by the nameless spook immediately upon the vacancy of the office?

  18. greg1466 says

    If the Holy Spirit is the one who really decides who will be the next pope, and the men (only men, of course) who vote on it all think they’re being guided by the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t the vote be unanimous?

    Indeed. I’d even think it would be simpler than that. If the Holy Spirit is who makes the decision, why does there even need to be a vote? I’d think the Holy Spirit would simply tell the designee directly and the new pope could stand up and say, “Hey, he picked me!” Or maybe in this case the Holy Spirit could tell the outgoing pope who his successor is so that he could announce it when he steps down. The fact that this would obviously (and possibly has in the past) result in multiple people claiming to be the anointed one almost makes it seem like there isn’t actually a Holy Spirit talking to any of them…

  19. rikitiki says

    This is just a “New Coke / Old Coke” rebranding of the RCC – We love our third-world Catholics, see?!”
    I figure this new guy will die/be-quietly-killed within 1 -to- 2 years and then they’ll elect someone
    from Africa to cover all the bases towards Catholics/converts in the market area where they still
    have some influence.

  20. movablebooklady says

    Speaking of the Holy Spirit, there’s a very interesting novel, “Magnificat” (e-book only, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro), that takes this theology as its starting point. It’s time to elect a new pope and the book posits that the paraclete (I love that term) really does imbue all the cardinals, it’s a unanimous vote (three times, which they can’t ignore), and, of course, the selection is a shocker. After all, canon law doesn’t preclude any (and I mean “any”) human from becoming pope. It’s a lot of fun.

  21. anubisprime says

    Pragmatism at work and the RCC is nothing but when their arse is being held to the fire!

    They need the infected in numbers to keep the cash flowing, and feel somewhat relevant, they need to pander to those folk, so they elect the countries top ju ju man, cos as sure as hell is other people, they would be wasting it on the traditional European / US axis…after 1300 years they have finally stunk the place up so bad they gotta move to follow the scam.

    This is not going to end well for them..!
    They are being pushed to the ends of the Earth, they have no place left to go!

  22. busterggi says

    movablebooklady – I tried raising paracletes once but had much better luck with cockatiels.

  23. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Someone on this Guardian thread pointed out the resemblance to the latter days of the USSR: one decrepit conservative after another elected by his fellow gerontocrats. So when in utter desperation they elect their Gorbachev-figure, we’ll know the end is indeed nigh.

  24. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    @moveablebooklady

    After all, canon law doesn’t preclude any (and I mean “any”) human from becoming pope.

    I don’t think that’s right: it has to be a male baptised Catholic. I was backing Silvio Berlusconi: fluent Italian speaker, rich enough to solve their financial problems, huge PR machine to put at their disposal, and no conceivable subsequent revelations about him would shock anyone. I still think they missed a trick.

  25. says

    I was thinking Sherriff Joe Arpaio would be a logical choice (if he’s Catholic, I’m not sure about that): he’s a bigot and an authoritarian who hates all kinds of reformers, and he has a knack for putting known child-molesters in charge of “protecting” children.

    Berlusconi? He’s a lightweight, especially on doctrinal matters, and he’s too honest to protect the Church’s image and authority like they need to do.

  26. jba55 says

    Ooo, the new Pope turned in priests? I await with bated breath his response to all the coddling of abusers and such. Well, not so much waiting as making a sandwich and doing something else until it gets called to my attention. But still, mildly curious.

  27. Ichthyic says

    The decision of who will be our next Pope must and will be decided by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit alone. All the other media noise and chatter must be silenced so they Spirit can do it’s work and be the only influencing factor in the decision.

    who knew that the Catholics were actually Quakers?

  28. birgerjohansson says

    Erratum re. @ 11,
    I confused those two monks with others.
    Several monks, nuns and priests of the RCC were “disappeared” during the dirty war because they sided with ordinary people against the dictatorship, and the RCC hierarchy withdrew their protection. The most notorius case regards the Italian nationals that were arrested and murdered by the same officer (Alfredo Astiz) who also arrested and murdered the Swedish national Dagmar Hagelin.
    Most of the readers here were probably not born during the “dirty war” but it singled out Argentina as the worst offender in Latin America, worse than Chile.
    During the whole period the RCC happily cooperated with the government.
    I find it hard to believe the survival of these two monks were due to strong interventions by the church.
    http://www.concordatwatch.eu/showtopic.php?org_id=11781&kb_header_id=48350

  29. caseloweraz says

    “The decision of who will be our next Pope must and will be decided by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit alone. All the other media noise and chatter must be silenced so they Spirit can do it’s work and be the only influencing factor in the decision.”

    This caught my attention. In the “grand” tradition of my “Why-does-God-need” questions, I ask: “Why does the Holy Spirit need us to silence media noise and chatter before it can do its work?

    Maybe there’s more in the associations evoked by the term “paraclete” than is immediately apparent.

  30. caseloweraz says

    The new pope may have been selected by the Paraclete, but can he budge Eric Garr? (The Eric Garr I’m thinking of is a production scientist at Novartis. Unfortunately for this attempt at humor, Novartis doesn’t seem to manufacture any contraceptive products.)

  31. lancifer says

    jba55,

    In Mormonism it’s called “the still, small voice” and it’s supposed to “guide” you. I never heard it, but I was assured I was just listening wrong.

    Well, duh! You know it’s true when you fell the “burning in the bosom.”

    You probably dismissed it as heart burn, you poor deluded apostate. You should always chew a couple of Tums before praying to prevent any possible confusion.

  32. matty1 says

    There is no vote, why do you think they are so secretive? As soon as the doors are closed the Holy Spirit tells them who will be the next pope but also tells them how long to wait before announcing it and to burn paper at regular intervals to fool the rubes.

    What do the cardinals really do during that secret time?

  33. says

    You probably dismissed it as heart burn, you poor deluded apostate. You should always chew a couple of Tums before praying to prevent any possible confusion.

    Are you kidding? Drugs are evil because they thwart the will of Almighty God! That’s why birth-control pills are bad! And condoms stop God’s judgement from being properly passed to wicked fornicators! If you don’t take Tums before praying, then you won’t really know if the burning in your bosom is God’s response. That’s where faith comes in. Wouldn’t want Tums undermining your need for faith, would you?

  34. says

    “Indeed. I’d even think it would be simpler than that. If the Holy Spirit is who makes the decision, why does there even need to be a vote? I’d think the Holy Spirit would simply tell the designee directly and the new pope could stand up and say, “Hey, he picked me!””

    Nah, they watch CNN and they saw the last presidential race in the U.S., too many were picked by GOD.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply