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CNN.com has an article handicapping the Papal election next week. Instead of listing the different candidates who may be favorites, they took the tack of listing qualifications: A Cardinal, Speaking fluent Italian, Dioscesean experience (not of a religious order),Not Polish, Not American. I am going to go out on a limb and suggest, not predict, that the Cardinals donít give a hoot about CNN or the politicos who want a liberal Pope. I will go further and make the case for an American Pope, and will say why I think he is a leading candidate, if not the leading candidate, to come out of the conclave in the white cassock.
Why an American Pope? CNN opines that America, as the lone superpower, cannot field a Pope because it is the lone superpower. They suggest that the cardinals will remember the French popes of the 1300ís who moved the Holy See to Avignon, France. I think that the cardinals are smart enough to know that an American Pope will not be moving the capital of the Roman Catholic Church to Newark or Poughkeepsie or Hollywood. The Avignon popes predate the Vatican and St. Peterís Basilica and are now seven hundred years removed.
The cardinals, on the other hand, may look at the tremendous success of John Paul II. He grew the church by 25% in the light of decreasing faithfulness in Europe (except for Eastern Europe). They appointed a pope from an area that sorely needed the support of the Church, namely the Iron Curtain region. The Pope promptly tore down the Iron Curtain and made the world a safer place.
"The United States is at a turning point. Two massive forces fight for the soul of the country."
The United States is at a turning point. Two massive forces fight for the soul of the country. On the left, you have the athiest socialists and liberals, who are working assiduously to drive God, but essentially only the Christian God, out of the countryís daily life. They use a judiciary that runs amok to enforce their will upon the unwilling. On the other side, you have the conservatives, with a huge base of faithful people, who are steadily growing more faithful and who are electing more faithful people to legislative and executive jobs.
John Paul II was a staunch conservative who appointed almost everyone who will vote upon his successor. The cardinals see the need to get past the priest abuse scandals, and the opportunity to actively move the cause of Christ forward in a country where it is now, as it was in Poland in 1978, under attack. Politically, the cardinals must see the opportunity to scale back the sin of abortion and save millions of lives. They must see a chance to motivate all of the faithful, not just Catholics, to oppose the death penalty. They must see a chance to invigorate the Catholic church in the United States and to assist the conservatives in gaining favor with urban Catholics and thus to promote the Christian values that they espouse. What better way than to energize the Americans than an American Pope?
Now, I am going to name my pick. I do not name him because he is from my hometown and is also its archbishop. I name him because he, like his predecessor, is a fundamentally good man, and like his predecessor, he would make an outstanding Pope.
I suggest that nobody should be surprised if Francis Cardinal George of Chicago emerges in the white cassock after the traditional "Habemus Papum" announcement.
Cardinal George seems as unlikely now as Karol Wotyjla was in 1978. He is under 70. He comes from a religious order (the Oblates of Mary Immaculate). He is American, and a Chicago native. But, he has also ran one of the largest archdioceses in the entire church faithfully and well for seven years. He at headed the religious order from which he comes, and was stationed in Rome for over a dozen years. He speaks Italian well.
He has been in front of the priest abuse scandals. He has also strongly supported the churchís pro-life positions with respect to contraception, abortion and capital punishment. He has unassailable integrity. Donít believe me. Google on "Francis Cardinal George" and read his cirriculum vitae. The cardinals would be acting brilliantly to elevate Cardinal George to the Holy See.
The cardinals have their own minds and will not be swayed by the media. I have a gut about who theyíll pick.