Cardinals of the Catholic Church will convene at the Vatican on Monday 18th April to begin the selection/election process used to choose a new pope. The conclave meets behind closed doors, the procedures are strictly hush-hush and the whole thing could take more than a week. It all seems unnecessary to me. I thought the Pope was supposed to be infallible. In which case, why didn’t he just select a successor while he was still alive and end the ambiguity? He couldn’t make the wrong choice, could he? By definition he has to be correct and everyone has to agree. Perhaps this infallibility only stretches so far. On that point, whoever is selected will be also be deemed infallible. Does this begin with immediate effect upon appointment or is it backdated for the whole of the candidate’s life? It seems to imply that a particular cardinal may have once been prone to error, but from the moment of selection will be correct on everything, and any prior mistakes are either now deemed to have been correct or simply didn’t ever happen. Or, it could mean that whoever is selected has to have infallibility listed on his CV as one of the core requirements. In which case, everyone up for candidacy has always been infallible, otherwise they can’t apply for the job.
But wait! It gets more confusing! The dogma of papal infallibility was only decreed in 1870. So does it mean that only popes since then have been infallible and anyone before was prone to making huge gaffes? In which case, there have been only ten (soon to be eleven) infallible popes and the previous 254 were all a bit rubbish. Or is it a backdated concept again? In which case popes were always infallible but it took the church nearly two thousand years to realise.
Illogical horseshit, whichever way you look at it.
It’s the secret procedures that intrigue me the most though. What are the methods by which selection is decided? The mind boggles. I like to imagine 115 cardinals playing a huge game of musical chairs in the Sistine Chapel. Just picture the tense scene as the last two cardinals run around the only remaining seat to a soundtrack of the Benny Hill theme tune. Or a Vatican poker night maybe? Winner takes all. Perhaps not, for gambling is a sin (probably). KerPlunk! would be another option, or what about a round-robin tournament of Hungry Hippos? Cardinal darts? Volleyball? The possibilities are endless.
I’m still hoping that they’ll elect me – I sent in my application for consideration last week. I can see it now: Pope Sane I.