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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habemus Papam! 

No name yet, but every news service in the world is reporting that a pope has been elected. Name isn't available yet. Commentary? This is quick to elect a pope, but not particularly unusual (apparently a pope was elected on the second day of the conclave a few times in the 20th century).

Update: it appears to be Cardinal Ratzinger, hereafter known as Benedict XVI. To analyze him in one sentence, he's the conservative's conservative, and was the single cardinal most closely associated with the reign of John Paul II. But he's also 78, which means that the conclave has elected what might be expected to be a caretaker pope: gracefully continue the legacy of John Paul II for a few years, then have the decency to die. But of course, there's nothing saying a 78-year old can't persist for a hale and hearty decade, or longer even.

Updater: habemus papam . . . but one more thought to justify the update. I have to profess that I am surprised at the choice, but that's not the same as thinking it was a bad choice. From my perspective, Benedict XVI looks like a very good, if somewhat simple choice. If I had to express it in any way, it is that this choice is one of a conclave wishing to very strongly honour the spirit of John Paul II, and to continue it a little further.

But since it's hard to say that John Paul II had any major unfinished business at hand, this seems almost a desire for a sort of stasis (or maybe just a bit of a rest) in which there will be no new business brought forward.

Hm. Well, since I am always one for a bad prediction (my previous guess was that there was no sense in the papabile speculation, but Ratzinger has long been a favourite), my next guess is that whatever anyone is expecting Ratzinger to be like as pope, prepare to be surprised.

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