Monday, April 18, 2005

The Conclave: Day One

Chimney-watch: Black = no pope. Posted by Hello

"Pope-Secret," says the caption next to Jon Stewart. This is all so serious, it's nice to have the funniest man on TV to turn to for perspective every night.

As expected, not much to report today. A few Ratzinger supporters may have hoped that he would prevail on the first ballot, but it seems more likely that the conclave will go at least two or three days. Ratzinger may have solid support among John Paul loyalists, but he is too controversial to win so quickly. I continue to stand behind Tettamanzi as my pick, perhaps by as early as Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. But see the replies to yesterday's posts (click here) for some interesting arguments against his candidacy. Scola begins to look like a possibility. And Paddy Power now has Arinze solidly atop the standings at 3-1. I doubt he'll win, but deadlock could lead anywhere.

What was truly amazing was the sheer gravitas of it all. The cardinals silently entering the Sistine Chapel, surrounded by Michelangelo, taking a solemn oath, then the doors shutting them in, an ancient tradition underway, out of sight of prying eyes, yet with much of the world waiting anxiously for the outcome. Truly an astonishing event, not least when compared to the accelerating diminution of gravitas that has reduced our own democratic legislatures to childish shout-fests. Not that I would ever turn against our democracy, and not that I don't know that democracy can be ugly, but it's nice to witness such elegant ritual every now and then.

But how about that chimney-watch? I was able to flip to CBC Newsworld and CNN throughout the day, and there it was in the corner of the screen. That's good TV!

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