Following Pope Benedict XVI’s recent resignation as head of the Catholic Church, 115 cardinals from around the world convened in Vatican City to start the new pope selection process, also known as the conclave. Through numerous votes and discussions, they will continue working until a two-thirds majority select their next leader.
As of Tuesday evening, however, no new pope had been chosen. This was immediately conveyed to the public when black smoke poured from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. White smoke is used when a new pope is elected, but for now, the wait continues.
Today, the cardinals will reconvene and continuing working towards some agreement on who their next figurehead will be. I use the word “figurehead” because to me, that’s exactly what the pope is. Granted, I’m not Catholic and it likely means more to people who practice the religion, but I’m sure my perspective is shared by more people than you might think. And like many of you, I hope these guys select a new pope soon.
Actually, I have a few suggestions that might make selecting a new pope easier. Voting will always be necessary, of course. But instead of waiting for a two-thirds majority, I suggest narrowing the field to three or four strong candidates, building a ring similar to those used in mixed martial arts competitions and letting the finalists duke it out until only one is left standing as the new pope.
It shouldn’t be that difficult since most of these guys are older. One shove to the ground might be all it takes to dislocate a hip and ensure some other cardinal wins the title.
Another option could still use the “death match” format, but would instead include weapons. My first thought is to have all the candidates swing those smoke-bellowing urns at one another. And if you fill them with some kind of toxic substance, only those capable of withstanding the gas attack would advance to the next round.
Arm wrestling or rock-paper-scissors might also work.
Sadly, none of these suggestions will be considered since tradition is so important and the slow, ancient selection process is already underway. Since the new pope will eventually resign, retire or die, though, there’s always a chance one of these methods could be used later.
Until then, I have but one thing to say to all the cardinals currently in deliberation: pick a pope and send some white smoke up that “pope pipe” already! We could have thrown a rock and hit a great candidate by now!
UPDATE: After what seemed like an eternity (especially to us non-Catholics), white smoke poured out of the chimney at the Sistine Chapel, which means a new pope has been selected. The lucky guy is none other than Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from my father’s home country of Argentina. Pope Francis (as he is now known) is 76 years old and is the first pope selected from the South American continent, as well as the first non-European pope of the modern era. Congratulations, Pope Francis!