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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A New Pope Already? What are the chances?

Ok. Ok. Many of you know that I am not Roman Catholic, but how many of you know I did 25% of my doctoral work on Roman Catholicism, and particularly Karl Rahner? I regularly use a book by Miroslav Volf that deals with Joseph Ratzinger's theology (who became Benedict XVI.) I pay little attention to our Roman brothers and sisters in Christ because, well, they can't seem to figure out what to do with priests who abuse(d) children? For me, that is a problem...

But now that Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation (it's been almost 600 years since someone did that, which in papal history is quite recent) is when the fun begins. I love this process of picking a new pope, and especially love it in the age of social media. This is going to be fun. I'm brushing up on my Latin, a little Italian (a lot of good papal gossip sites are written in Italian), and preparing for days of TV waiting for white smoke (or is it black, I'll have to brush up on the rules again?)

I must admit, I am a bit disappointed that my previous favorite for pope Carlos Cardinal Martini has died recently, and is no longer eligible for the position. (Rome has elected a lot of different types of folks for the 260 some popes they have had, but none has been deceased.) So I need a new favorite, and fortunately, the European bookmakers have already been hard at work. To see where we stand check this site. Now, there is a lot of money to be wasted here...you can bet on Bono becoming the next pope...and communion might look like this.  Tell me you don't want that at the oblation?

There is strong odds for an actual Roman Catholic from the US, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, but given our country's inability to play well with others, it tends to play against his elevation to the office. Whereas, you can get pretty good odds for Marc Cardinal Ouellet, a French Canadian whom is busy these days redefining Roman Catholic worship. Thoughts were popular back when Benedict XVI was elevated that a pope would come from the Southern hemisphere--obviously a German did not cover that bet. It could happen again, and Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria is always a popular choice (and 7/2? Seriously? I could make more money burying it.)
 I am going to go with Archbishop of Milan Angelo Cardinal Scola. I love the 13/2 odds, I love that he is a social conservative who wrote on Van Balthasar, and he taught political theology. He is a scholar, and is Italian. That last piece is intriguing to me.

One of the things I see happening in God's church these days is groups becoming more and more ethnic. This is not in repudiation (although perhaps in some cases), but rather in dealing with the huge amount of diversity in religious traditions. I mean, if half of the Christians in the world are Roman, what does the elevation of the Pope mean to the other half? Who are these people? What does it mean to me? I can't imagine what it means to all the 20 year-olds at Creighton University who buy their condoms and birth control where I get my shampoo? We seem to be gravitating towards tribalism and ethnicity as a way to make our religious distinctions have some visceral appeal. (What I mean by this, is that we use our heritage and traditions as a way to get tangible evidence that our God is real.) Since Roman is from Rome which is in Italy, I'm going with the Italian, and a half-baked theory of tribalism...but let's be real, I've lost lots of money on much more flimsier theories.

The last time we had an election for a pope, God told me in a dream who it was going to be...I lost that bet. (See this story from last September on Missional Week: Roman Catholic Edition). I haven't had a dream, but I know God has one for us, and in these days of changing leadership and what it means to be the Church, that is the dream I want realized. God's love, embracing our difference, and not remembering our exclusion.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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