The Pope has resigned stating that he is too old to perform his duties, unusual for a job that historically is for life. Immediately it makes me think about other people that have passed their prime but still hold down jobs, and no longer have the capacity to undertake their responsibilities. Broadcaster Alan Jones, singer Meatloaf, singer/actor John Trovolta, mogul Rupert Murdoch.
Now the race is on to find the new one and the Vatican is keen to have the next Pope installed before Easter… so he can start the job with four days off.
As I write this, the favourite to be the next Papal Father is Ghanaian Cardinal Turkson. Unfortunately for Turkson the Catholic church does not have a great history electing black leaders. The process itself demonstrates inbuilt discrimination. When the conclave has completed each round of their vote they burn the ballots. The colour of the smoke indicates the results. Black = no decision, white = decision.
This does not bode well for an African Cardinal, the most basic message from their leaders is black equals no, white equals yes. Black is wrong, white is right.
In 2013 I also believe forming a conclave of 117 elderly men of the cloth to vote on scraps of parchment is such a mundane of voting. Note that cardinals over the age of 80 are ineligible to vote, not to old to actually be the Pope but to old to decide who it should be.
How much more exciting it would be for the world of spectators if Papal candidates were each asked to recite a liturgy of their choice in Latin or Greek or Hebrew. The Conclave could be sitting with their backs to them before hitting the buzzer on their revolving chair when they hear one they like.
Why not ask them to reinvent holy communion, guaranteeing one of the candidates will serve a deconstruction – no easy task for a meal consisting of only two elements, red wine and a wafer. Imagine the controversy if one of them did actually serve the blood and flesh of a man.
This could be followed by a challenge to renovate a derelict chapel, bonus points being offered to any candidate who can turn the baptismal font into an indoor/outdoor water feature.
To test their full range of skills the candidates could be given a random selection of materials and accessories and require them to crease a new set of Papal robes, choosing a design that best represents the main focus of the Papacy. Expect to see a lot of fish, sheep, loaves, and healings to be represented.
The Presiding Cardinal could ask each of the Cardinals to select a series of numbered gold briefcases. In the Holy See you can expect the briefcases to be actual gold.
Of course the Vatican could always open the vote up to the public, establishing phone lines charging 0.99c per minute of 0.55c for a premium text. Dial 101 for Ghana, 102 for Nigeria, 103 for Germany, 104 for Switzerland, 105 USA, 106 Milan, 107 Vienna, 108 England and 109 Genoa.