Election season: Vatican edition


Trust me, these days, you have been hearing about clamors on social media for certain cardinals to be elected Pope in this highly-contested and uncertain conclave brought about by the sudden resignation of now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. After all it is election season once again in the Vatican after that February 11th surprise announcement. 

Even the lone Filipino elector in the conclave, Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, has a page or two dedicated to the ‘campaign’ for his papacy, which is inevitable for every cardinal who walks into the Sistine Chapel and swears before God and the Gospels to uphold the secrecy of the election or face damnation as is depicted in the frescoes of Michaelangelo.

Not only Tagle, but even those touted hardliners such as the former secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) and Sri Lankan archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith or perhaps the American prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Raymond Cardinal Burke, regarded as friendly with liturgy conservatives and contemporaries. Count even the back-slapping and sports fan Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York in.

On Facebook, if you befriend people whose interests and stakes lie in watching over the events unfolding in Rome at the onset of Benedict’s sudden departure from the papacy, or those whose interests lie in the Church and in her future after Benedict, you will see that from among them (and even those who just log in to look for beautiful girls or perhaps sell anything God-knows-what), there are those openly campaigning for certain cardinals. In the Philippine setting, you hear about shouts and cheers for Tagle; even a remake of the 80s hit YMCA extolling the Cardinal’s virtues just to show ‘support’ for Tagle, as the composer puts it in his YouTube channel.

I will understand if it is the natural reaction to Filipinos having someone to call their own during the European-dominated conclave. Anyway, the last Filipino cardinal touted as possible papabile was Jaime Cardinal Sin, Tagle’s predecessor and one of the architects of the Edsa People Power revolt that ousted Marcos. That would have happened if John Paul II’s papacy lasted for just 10-15 years as some projected.

However, lest people realize it, openly campaigning for Tagle or any other cardinal for that matter, may never help bolster any of their aspirations to be Pope (should there be any; one cardinal was quoted as saying that ‘those who wish to be Pope are crazy’) nor will it help in the deliberations of cardinals participating in the General Congregations, happening right now as I write this piece.

Please be reminded, that one can never draw a parallelism between the midterm elections in the Philippines and this conclave, which, according to Vaticanologists based in Rome and elsewhere, there are no clear frontrunners. This may be sad news for fans of The Word Exposed, but let’s make it simple: each cardinal is a candidate for the papacy.

However, those same church-loving people who tell us not to campaign loudly for any cardinal to be Pope are the same people who say bad things against some cardinals. As I write now I have only read about people maligning certain because of mismanagement and other allegations, or perhaps about a cardinal’s take on sexual abuse cases in their dioceses.

If these same church-loving people asking the public to stop broadcasting the names of their favorite papabili are the same persons maligning those cardinals, they may be no different from those they are trying to correct. Instead of maligning and therefore disrespecting the priesthood these cardinals possess, they better tell these people to pray instead to the Holy Spirit to guide these cardinals as they ponder and discern for the good of the Church.

Last reminder: if you wish to see your favorite cardinal elected, do not talk about him in social media. Pray for him. That’s the only way to show your cardinal that you love him. After all, the Church will still stand no matter who the Pope will be.

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About Luigi Flores
Brother Luigi Flores: Writer/Editor. Mass Communication Instructor. Voice-over Artist. Upcoming Radio Host. Youth Minister. Lector/Psalmist.

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