The process for picking the next head of the Catholic Church is not exactly beginning well.
The first day of discussion was rocked by revelations of scandal, with Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien admitting that he had engaged in sexual misconduct not befitting a priest, archbishop or cardinal.
I know I’m just a simple Quaker, but I thought that one of the rules of being a priest, archbishop, or cardinal was that there was no room for sexual conduct, let alone misconduct. Isn’t sex of any kind on the permanent given-up-for-Lent list? (HT Hawkeye Pierce.) The only punishment for Cardinal O’Brien is that he can’t come to Rome to pick the next guy; he gets to stay home and presumably spend the rest of his days updating his profile on Manhunt (“Semi-retired and now available on Sundays. Can’t host.”)
I know this whole magilla about choosing a new pope is steeped in ceremony and secrecy that’s supposed to make it seem somehow sacred and holy, and it probably is to those who believe. Fine. But frankly when you get down to it, it’s not a whole lot different than a bunch of frat boys getting together for rush week to choose a new head drunkard, or some group like the Elks or Shriners getting together to induct a new member. The difference is that this particular enterprise has engaged in criminal conduct over the centuries and basically gotten away with it by claiming to be the direct conduit to a supernatural being. Whereas the Elks and the Shriners have actually done some good for their community.
Now if the cardinals were to race around St. Peter’s Square in those little red go-carts wearing their robes and pointy hats and all, they might have something going for them.