Where Will the Next Pope Come From?
In the days since Pope Benedict XVI announced his upcoming resignation the news media, and people in general, have had the opportunity like never before to speculate about who the next Holy Father could be.
This popular fad has not been lost on Latter-day Saint audiences. Last week Peggy Stack of The Salt Lake Tribune wrote an article entitled “Could Mormon Prophet or Dalai Lama Resign Like the Pope?” A few Mormons have speculated that some Church Presidents did “step down” in a way by calling additional counselors in the First Presidency (McKay and Kimball), and the Bloggersphere has been filled with a cacophony of LDS/Catholic parallels. But with a Church President just a few months younger than Benedict himself, we Latter-day Saints can’t help but join in on the speculation of who the next pope might be.
Among my favorite papal speculations came from Omid Safi. Safi, a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joined in on the foray of the next holy father by writing earlier this week that we should perhaps all look to a pope that we could all agree on. A pope perhaps like…
Yoda. The intergalactic green guy.
Professor Safi writes,
The focus of the discussion so far has been on the ethnicity of the next Pope, and the potential to expand the reach of the Church in new and exciting directions.
What about changing the nature of the office of the Pope itself?
How about a change to Yoda, to move from an embodiment of authority to one that emphasizes spiritual transmission? Not one who embodies religious authority, but rather one whose mission is to instruct, to awaken, to help his followers become who and what they are destined to be.
What if the focus was not on a Pope to embody the religious teachings of any one religious tradition, but rather on the interconnectedness of all existence?
What if we had a Yoda Pope to help us see beyond a notion of a personal God (creating God in our own image) to seeing the sacred as the very connection of the whole Universe.
Now granted, I like Yoda as much as the next guy. Pope Yoda would really liven up Easter Mass with a pastel colored light saber, but isn’t Latin already confusing enough without switching around the sentence structure again?
I don’t know, I’m just more of a traditionalist.
When Pope Benedict XVI was elected by the College of Cardinals in early 2005 I was serving my final months as a full-time missionary. With what few news clippings I could get my hands on I quickly became a Ratzinger Man from the start. Traditionalist. Conservative. A scholar. Those were things I felt would help unite us as Christians fighting against the evils of the world.
But this go around?…
I haven’t chosen a man to root for yet. And that’s okay because we still have a few days of Benedict. But which cardinal should I be making a big foam finger for? What Catholic guy is going to look best on t-shirts, mugs, and those handy scented candles that all of the faithful Catholics have? And which guy is going to be cool enough as the pope to tour the Rome Italy Temple open house before the temple is dedicated in a couple of years?
These are all things flying through my Latter-day Saint mind as the conclave approaches.
With that in mind though, here is a nifty little infographic I saw on MSN yesterday. I hope you enjoy it.
And, in case you have any cardinal buddies who still haven’t made up their mind yet, go ahead and mention Cardinal Ouellet’s name to them. I figure the only thing that would be more awesome than Swiss Guards protecting the pope would be Canadian Mounties guarding the pope.
Not even Pope Yoda with his light saber could top that.