Friday, April 08, 2005

E. J. Dionne on conclave politics and Vatican "pork" rewards

The Cardinal Principles of Politics

By E. J. Dionne Jr.

Friday, April 8, 2005; Page A25

Outsiders scoff at the claims we Roman Catholics make, that the Holy Spirit guides the cardinals who will be electing a new pope. To those skeptics, I would suggest that divine protection is the only rational explanation for how our magnificent but flawed church has survived all these years.

But I am fed up with those in the know who hide behind the Holy Spirit to avoid talking about the politics of this election. I'm not referring here to the honest modesty of people such as Washington's Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who would make a great pope. Modesty is called for here. If you think Washington punditry is bad, watch how flawed all the predictions on this papal election will be -- including my own.

Still, God bless Tom Reese, a Catholic political scientist, for saying on CNN the other day that all elections involve politics. Exactly right, but what kind of politics? An editor asked recently what could possibly constitute "Vatican pork." He was not being disrespectful. He was assuming, rightly, that elections involve coalition-building in which those on the winning side expect some reward.

Popes do not have access to the classic forms of pork -- not much in the way of highway or defense contracts. But they do give out a lot of jobs. One brute fact about this election is that the vast majority of the 117 cardinals who will be picking the next pope were appointed by John Paul II. Few politicians play such a decisive role in shaping an election after they are gone.


Go read the rest.


Blogger Terry Finley said...

Nice Blog. Thank you.

The Holy Spirit is an important

Come visit me.

Terry Finley

1:50 PM  

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