I made a mistake last night - I skipped over from EWTN to some secular news channels to see how they were reporting the Black Smoke. I should have stayed with Ray and the gang. The language of the BBC, SKY and CNN was negative. At least I did not pop over to RTE, I had too much sense for that.
The BBC reported that the Cardinals had "failed" to elect a Pope. It seems they may well be intent on creating a crisis story for the Church. In fact one tweeter said this morning that the media will try and use the time it takes to elect a Pope and make it feel as if they cannot come up with a candidate and so the Catholic Church is in so much trouble she cannot even get a leader. Part of the problem is living an age when everything is instant - the media and many today, cannot cope with process, they must have an answer now, today, and not to get one immediately is interpreted, rightly or wrongly, as a sign that there is a problem.
CNN was better, a little more objective, but then they resorted to the usual cache of issues, particularly women priests. One reporter was interviewing Cardinal Egan, Emeritus Archbishop of New York, and her line was that the Church is near its end, sunk in a crisis it cannot get out of because she doggedly holds on to old fashioned doctrines. Poor Cardinal Egan did his best, but I think she was unconvinced.
The media is obsessed with "crisis" - the Church must always be in "crisis". They list scandals and problems and think the Church will crumble beneath the weight of them. I think for some this is wishful thinking: they want the Church to crumble, or rather her adherence to Christ's teachings: a neutral, neutered Church would be no problem for them.
Is the Church in crisis? Yes and no. Yes in that she is always in a state of crisis - she is trying to preach the Gospel in age of disbelief, struggling under persecution, while some of her own members resist the Gospel themselves and even sin greviously. Crisis - yes, perhaps, although I think St Paul puts it better when he says that we are growing, labouring, coming to birth.
The Church has dealt with some bad situations in the past - the Arian crisis may well have been worse than this, the Reformation was not easy either. As for crisis Conclaves - that which was called after the death of Pope Pius VI was a crisis Conclave - they could not even meet in Rome and the threat of another imprisoned Pontiff hung over them. Yet the Church and Papacy emerged triumphant: as Napoleon dragged Pius VII through Paris to humilate him at the imperial coronation, the people of France saw how their Holy Father was being treated and it led to a revival of faith and love of the Pope. Somehow the Church always comes through, not through her own efforts, but by the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. In faith we can say that this will continue in our time.
As for this election: the process of electing a Pope, as we know, takes time - the Cardinals do not rush into a decision. We must also understand that a Conclave is in fact a liturgy - some Cardinals have been reminding us of that recently. During the scrutinies they do not talk to each other, they pray. They vote, and then as each one presents his vote he prays, there is silence, a time for meditation. Indeed during the first Conclave of 1978 Cardinal Wojtyla was able to write poetry. So the Cardinals will not be hasty to accomodate the lunchtime news: they are involved in something important here. The fact that a candidate has to get two-thirds majority also means it will take time.
So no rush, and no crisis. If a Conclave lasts a few weeks, then the media can start to talk about a log-jam, but until then, just take it easy boys and girls. Sit down, read a good book, have a Horlicks and pray with the rest of us. Constantly spinning the spin must be exhausting.
Now, we'll settle down to watch the chimney. We have confirmation in our parish today, so that will keep me occupied.