Monday, April 18, 2005

Ratzinger on the Spirit's role in the conclave

Just a couple of hours ago the cardinal-electors entered the Sistine Chapel to commence the conclave that will elect a new pope, with the prayer of the litany of the saints on their lips and invoking on the Holy Spirit to guide them. And we at seminary held a special Mass today asking the Spirit to move the electors to choose a good man as Peter's successor. But what is exactly the role of the Spirit in the selection process?

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter recently quoted something by Cardinal Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals and trumpeted as a front-runner, nine years ago on an interview on Bavarian television about the role of the Spirit during the conclave. Does the Holy Spirit dictate to the electors whom to choose? This is what Ratzinger had to say:

“I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the pope.... I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.”

Then the clincher: “There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit would obviously not have picked.”

Powered by Blogger