I'm not a practicing Catholic, so I really don't care whom they select as Pope. I hope they avoid the rumored-former-Nazi Ratzinger, though. The reason I don't care is that the Catholic Church could be doing a lot more good for its faithful if it would change a bit. I know all the Cal Thomases and George Wills and Rush Limbaughs and Charles Krauthammers of the world (none of whom, AFAIK, are Catholics themselves) will argue vociferously that the whole point of the Vatican is to avoid change, standing as a shining beacon of conservatism in an otherwise godless world. Or something like that. I'll leave it to your imagination to decipher what sort of change I mean. But the spectacle of a bug on the CNN screen with a "chimneycam" for Smokewatch '05 is really too much for me to bear. I personally find all religion to be about 50/50 between fairy tale and superstition, but people gathering in St. Peter's Square to watch a chimney begs the question - don't these people have somewhere else they need to be? If I sound bitter about the whole thing, it's because I am. This is a church that has systematically enabled and protected child molestation by its clergy. The clergy who manage somehow to escape criminal prosecution (due to statutes of limitation or other barriers), are not excommunicated by the church. But if a Cardinal voting for the Pope utters a word about the conclave to a journalist or anyone else not sworn to secrecy, he can be excommunicated for that. I would argue that a priest anally raping a young boy is more deserving of excommunication than leaking information about some anachronistic little drama. It's all about perception, and in this case the perception is that the Catholic Church in 2005 has its priorities way, way out of whack.

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