CATHOLIC OBSERVATIONS I. I still think Ratzinger is the leading candidate. Some sources say he already has 40-50 votes among the cardinals. Rarely does the first vote result in an election, and yesterday’s vote was no exception as black smoke escaped the copper chimney of the Sistine Chapel. Around 30,000 people were standing around and watching in St. Peter's Square.
There are 115 voting cardinals. Election requires a vote of two-thirds of them. That means 77 agreeing cardinals will choose the 265th pope, unless the stalemate continues for 12 days, when it switches to a simple majority. That change was instituted by John Paul. It makes you wonder if he did not think a conservative could win a super majority.
Ratzinger is not going to soften his conservative image to win, however, and I admire that. At a pre-conclave Mass for the cardinals, Ratziner, who is the dean of the College of Cardinals, fired off a strong sermon calling for strict orthodoxy. He criticized relativism with an allusion to Ephesians 4:13.
Liberals in the church want to debate the religious and ethical issues that Ratzinger sees as settled by scripture and doctrine. Does that sound familiar to any of my Southern Baptist friends?
Here is the money quote. Ratzinger said the church has been shaken by numerous ideological currents. The boat has been unanchored by these waves, thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, up to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and on and on. An adult faith does not follow the waves of fashion and the latest novelty.
This will not win the votes of the American cardinals. But the recent history of the Catholic Church in America indicates some moral and doctrinal firmness is in order.