White Smoke, the New Pope, and the Future of the Roman Catholic Church
As the papal conclave is assembled, the list among the papabali–possible popes–reveal no clear favorite. . EuroNews informs:
Vatican workers installed a chimney on the Sistine Chapel that will tell the world when a successor to Pope Benedict XVI is decided.
The conclave between the Roman Catholic cardinals begins on Tuesday. Black smoke coming out of the chimney will tell the world that no decision has been made and white smoke will announce the new pontiff.
The installation of a new pope in the near future will bring many new challenges. The white smoke may signal a new phase in the Roman Catholic Church, but the new pope will have his hands full. As CBSNews reports:
The 266th pope faces massive challenges: the Catholic Church is losing believers to evangelical Protestants; it cannot shake off the seemingly endless scandal over clerical sex abuse; and has a crisis in the curia, the church’s management in Rome.
Pope Benedict XVI left under much controversy and speculation. Certainly his health played a major role in his decision. But as the Roman Church scrambles in secrecy to elect the new pope, we Protestants watch with a certain level of skepticism. Will this new pope act favorably towards the Protestant tradition? Benedict XVI questioned purgatory asserting that it is an “interior fire” rather than external. Will the new pope also open the doors to greater ecumenical endeavors by questioning these traditional Catholic doctrines?
The controversial Catholic writer, Garry Wills, begins his book Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit with a telling historical observation:
Catholics have fallen out of of the healthy old habit of reminding each other how sinful Popes can be.
He then concludes his critical work with the following observation:
I do not think that my church has a monopoly on the Spirit.
Wills is persona non grata in Roman Catholic circles. But yet his assertions are refreshing for Protestants. Will the church seek to re-define some of the erroneous teachings it has upheld for centuries, or will she continue to stifle opposing voices? The new pope will have to deal with the mass Roman Catholic exodus taking place. The vox populi seems to be in sharp opposition to Roman pronouncements. What used to be viewed as authoritative is now a comedy segment on the Jon Stewart show. What is more intriguing is that Catholics are laughing along. “Why are they laughing,” we ask? Is the joke that funny or is the joke that true?