Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Selection of a Pope. Divine or Human Process?

My friend Magister brought up an interesting question. From the perspective of a Christianity today article, the pope's selection process appears more like a selection of a CEO than the choosing of the successor of Peter, the vicar of Christ on earth. Below is our conversation.

Tiber...I know this comment does not exactly relate to this post, but I wanted to ask your thoughts on something.

I followed the link from the Commentary section of the website The Catholic Thing for the article "Benedict XVI: an Evangelical view" and found the following opening paragraph:

"When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, much successor speculation focused on the global South, where the Roman Catholic Church continues to grow. By elevating a cardinal from Africa or South America, Rome could have highlighted a success story. Instead, the church reached into the heart of secular Europe for Pope Benedict XVI from Germany. His selection sent a clear message: Rome will not give up on Europe without a fight."

It was always my understanding that God directed through divine inspiration the selection of a pope. I remember being quite frustrated at the time of Pope Benedict's election that so many...nay, nearly all...were talking about this as if it were no different from appointing a CEO of a major corporation. The opening paragraph in this Christianity Today article is no different, suggesting that any papal election has more to do with geography and politics than the will of God.

So which is it?

Thanks as always!

October 07, 2009 4:30 PM


Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Dear Magister:
I think your answer may actually be in your question;
"It was always my understanding that God directed through divine inspiration the selection of a pope."

Despite the rumblings and "papabile" comments by both Catholic and non-Catholic commentators during a papal conclave, the ancient process is divinely inspired and we trust that God uses the process as human and imperfect as it is, in giving us the next shepherd in the shoes of that original fisherman Peter.
Folks like to say "the Church needs some one from the African continent, or someone younger from S. America or another third world country", yet at the end of the day, God knows and decides who should be the best successor.
We think of the 11 disciples sitting distraught after the defection and betrayal of Judas, knowing they had to pick a successor. They did something so human and secular- They cast lots!
Catholicism is this mysterious intersection of the human and the divine. The incarnation continues to make his presence and way known to men , through men!
So when the sideline quaterbacks begin to comment about the papal selection as if it is a CEO selection process, the difference is that there is a hand bigger than all of us that ultimately is involved in the process. He draws straight with crooked lines throughout salvation history.


Blogger Brooke H. said...

When I read the comment, I immediately came up with the answer (like you said) from within it. To say that we should have a pope from any certain area of the world or not from another area is in effect attempting to shirk the divine inspiration and guidance in that process. Anyone looking to find fault with the procedures and end results will find it, but they are looking through purely secular lenses and attempting to democratize (is that even a word?) a process that is not meant to be diplomatic/democratic. Very interesting question, though.

October 08, 2009 10:08 AM  
Blogger Owen said...

It's both and isn't it. God works his will through human agents. We do what we can, entrust it to him and no matter what, he has his way. Were it not this way, God working through human endeavor surrendered to God I suppose he'd have to drop us a pope from the sky, Mr. Been style and chances are good we'd question that too ;-)

October 08, 2009 11:04 AM  
Blogger Magister Christianus said...

Tiber...I am honored that you took the content of that exchange and dedicated a post to it! And I think you are right. It is God Who works, mysteriously through flawed humanity. I would go further to say that the election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the seat of Peter is evidence of that, for it is unlikely that any mere group of humans in this current age would have chosen a European, much less one so ardently a defender of orthodoxy.

October 08, 2009 12:23 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

Seems like it was mostly the 'mainstream media' who were beating the drums for a Global South pope the last few elections. The cardinals went against the Conventional Wisdom and picked an obscure Venetian, a Pole, and a German, none being a predictable choice in any human sense.

October 08, 2009 10:31 PM  

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