Pretty much everyone has been discussing the papal conclave and at virtually every opportunity someone mentions whether Dan Brown is finding this all very exciting. Perhaps I am an aberration, but I couldn’t give a damn what Dan Brown thinks, and I’m far more interested in the oddities of the conclave than I am in the result.
For the second time, black smoke has poured from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel (I wonder what damage that could be doing to Michelangelo‘s artworks?) and the cardinals have failed again to elect a new Pope. Until they achieve majority support for a single candidate, they will remain locked in consultation and voting. And at the conclusion of each vote, a smoke signal is sent up to indicate a clear choice, or another stalemate.
Such a mishmash of cultural traditions I have never before seen in modern times. The conclave is a mad melange of pomp and ceremony, secretive traditions that seem decidedly anti-Christian, an anachronistic but Socratic form of democracy, and rather pagan symbolism. It’s well worth reading some of the guides to the conclave, including the rules governing election and the constitutional issues arising from the process. But it’s probably also worth reading some of the inherent heresy associated with the very role of a Pope, the financial statements of the Vatican, and even the basic entry of Vatican City in the World Fact Book. The combination of these readings provide a rather curious understanding of what we’re not discussing in all these reports about the conclave. Instead of being fascinated by the Dan Brown-esque traditions and the gambling on the outcome, perhaps it might be a better idea to see how it may be possible to influence the policies being developed by the Holy See, and to better understand the relevance of dogma coming from a cartel that chooses to sequester itself away from the very people it is supposed to spiritually govern.