- Posted March 9, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Catholics: Your views on new pope
Waiting for the Next Pope
The Catholic Church is at the stage of the sede vacante when its cardinals have chosen March 12 as the date of the Conclave. With this decision, the rest of the world waits in anticipation. The makeshift chimney from the roof of the Sistine Chapel has been installed. Profiles of "papabili" now circulate in all forms of media. As all roads led to Rome centuries ago, this time all eyes are on it.
Naturally, all this activity will be part of the long history of the Church, indeed a special one in the modern era. Historians could, at a later vantage point, critique and put value into the events that we are now witnessing. And so, the domain of the present is in the eyes and ears of journalists, analysts and the huge majority of Catholics who are active spectators to the unfolding of the events--active, I say, more than ever for all the means of information are at their disposal. It is, after all their Church.
I am one of these many Catholics, a simple priest equally interested like the others in what this coming Conclave brings about, which person will be tasked to take the leadership in shepherding this huge flock.
I foresee a Church that seeks to be more relevant in the world. With this I envision the need for a lot of listening. There is a need for a lot of dialogue, communicating to those who are "unchurched", those who are not reached by the Church due to various reasons. With this the Catholic Church will be more true to its name, with its universality shining forth. The implication is a moving away from a heavily centralized governance and putting more relevance to the local churches. From these Rome would be able to listen more to the voices of those who are in the fringes where Christ is alive, very much felt in the daily events of people.
It is therefore a blessing to be in Rome in these historic days. I will be watching the smoke from the chimney and hopefully not miss the proverbial "Habemus papam!" and the first appearance of the next Roman Pontiff.
While dreaming all this, I went to the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the walls. Iwanted to see once more the pictures of the popes beginning from Saint Peter and onto Benedict XVI before another one is added. Contrary to what I expected, the spotlight was still shining on the image of Benedict XVI. Very soon this will not be the case. I looked at the images of the first popes: Peter, Linus, Anacletus, Clement... and then I counted all the blank circles: still 27 of them. But then my glance was fixed on that which would bear the image of the next pope. In a few days we will know who would it be.
I went out of the Basilica. I looked at the fresh grass and saw little white flowers. Spring has come.
Pictures (Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls):
1) the portrait of Pope Benedict XVI and the empty circle that waits;
2) the statue of Peter at left and his portrait at far right;
3) the portrait of Peter as "first pope";
4) the basilica lined up with the portraits of the popes through the centuries;
5) portraits of the first popes;
6) John Paul II, Benedict XVI and the space that awaits;
7) the portrait of Benedict XVI, still well lit, still sans the time detail of his pontificate;
8) the sede vacante that will be filled in;
9) the lawn around the basilica with flowers, heralds of spring.