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7 Quick Takes Friday


The night after Pope Benedict XVI made the announcement of his resignation, we added him and the cardinals who will be electing his successor to our litany of people for whom we pray our family night prayers. There are other spots where we regularly pray for the pope and his intentions, but adding him and the cardinals to a list that had consisted just of friends and relatives, those known and near to us, brought into sharp relief for me the fact that we, thousands of miles from St. Peter’s Square, are intimately connected to this quiet German man, and furthermore that we have a role to play in the conclave to elect his successor. Prayer is no small thing – it is the circulation of blood through the Body of Christ. Even if we are no more than capillaries, let us do our part!


The German Youth 2000 site launched an Adopt a Cardinal site so that those who wish to pray for the cardinals who will be choosing (and/or being) the next pope can pick-at-random a cardinal for whom to pray. I did it a couple of days ago and was given Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima, Peru. When I opened the site to link to it today, though, I was greeted with this message (in German and English): “Due to heavy server load no new adoptions can currently be made! We are working on a solution!” Fortunately, they seem to have arrived at one – last I checked, the site was up and running again. And more than 160,000 people have not only visited the site but have “adopted” a cardinal.


I have two younger sisters. When we were growing up, we’d sometimes ask if we could watch a movie on a weekend afternoon or evening, and our parents would say that we could watch something out of our own collection – they weren’t interested in heading out to the nearest video rental place. (Ah, the days before Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video . . . ) So, after many hours on various weekends wasted in squabbling because Miss Period Drama, Miss Shark Video, and Miss Baseball Movie had rather different tastes in movies (let’s just say that we’ve all moved on), we finally developed a system.

We’d dump arrange the movies so that we could see the titles and then each start making our own stacks of movies we wouldn’t mind watching. Then, stacks made and armed with something to write with & write on, we’d do the first round of voting. In Round One, we could propose and vote for as many as we wanted – though the maximum number of votes any movie could get was three, since there were three of us. The point in that round wasn’t to Pick One – it was just to eliminate all the ones that got either one vote or no votes.

In the next rounds, we’d limit the number of votes – usually each of us got three votes, I think, in Round Two, and then just one vote on the Final Round, though there were usually more than three rounds.

It turned out to be a very handy technique, and I pulled it out more than a few times – especially in college – to help groups of friends make what could easily become interminable decisions. What movie to watch; where to eat; what cardinal – er baptized male – to choose as next pope . . .


Okay, so each cardinal is limited to one vote in each round, and I was never involved, but otherwise, the systems have a lot in common. (Here’s a fun little walk through the conclave process.)

And the thing I’ve always found most fascinating about my personal applications of this system is that it very occasionally yields a result that everyone is thrilled with, but it most reliably results in something that no one hates and that everyone feels generally positive – though not over-the-moon excited – about. And often (yes, often!) what emerges is a complete surprise even to those involved in the selection process. But the sort of surprise that is followed by, “Yes, this makes sense for this group. I can work with this.”

How does God’s will fit into this when it’s the pope that’s getting picked? Well, I’ll leave that to Jimmy Akin to explain for now.


This system does not work when there are only two people or only two options. I think this could be an argument for the elimination of political parties. But all of us would miss them so much . . . <cough>

Hey – Scott Adams agrees with me.


The kids and I got back from running some errands yesterday early afternoon, and both of them conked out in the back seat of the car – M(4yo) right after I parked. I decided to doze a bit myself while I had the peace and quiet, and while I rested, one of my recently frequent prayers drifted through my head: “God bless Pope Benedict – ” We have no pope. Sudden awareness, suddenly awake, and I dug for my cellphone and saw that the clocks in Rome were just striking 8pm.


Speaking of movies and conclaves – if you’re in the mood for a combination, you could check out

The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968, starring Anthony Quinn; nominated for two Oscars)

The Cardinal (1963, nominated for six Oscars)

or, for a gently humorous Italian take on becoming Pope (I’ve seen only previews), We Have A Pope (2011).

::For more quick takes, head over to Conversion Diary::