March 11, 2013

Why I'm Going With Wuerl

One of the delights of these days of sede vacante has been reading John Allen's 'papabile of the day.' Today's seems to be the last, on the possibilities for an American pope. Given age and health concerns, Allen puts aside Cardinal George (who would probably be my American candidate in the end) and focuses on Dolan, O'Malley, and Wuerl.

I have to go with Wuerl--not in a positive way, but by process of elimination. This is nothing against the man, and I would be perfectly happy to see him elected. I'm sure he would make a fine pope. There's even something vaguely Roman about his face. I remember watching him on TV and finding his teaching helpful, back in the days when I was a catechumen and he was bishop of Pittsburgh.

It has been amazing to observe the swell of support and hope for O'Malley here in Italy. I think Allen is quite right when he says that if the Romans themselves were still in a position (or still willing to riot) to demand the election of their candidate, O'Malley would probably be elected pope on the first ballot. In a way it makes me feel good; it shows how something about Franciscan-ness (dare I even say Capuchin-ness?) gives people hope and captures something that matters at the heart of Christianity in a very Catholic way. Nevertheless, as one of my confreres has reminded us in these days, Franciscan popes have not usually been a good thing for the fervor and observance of the Order. Therefore, all politics being local, it's hard for me to get behind the O'Malley candidacy, though I would certainly rejoice with the the people of Rome and with the Church Universal to see him become pope.

Even though each time I have met him and I have come away impressed and encouraged, I can't endorse Cardinal Dolan either. To do so would be, for me, to beg the Lord's condemnation. You see, when Dolan came to New York to be archbishop, I was working in one of our parishes there. As part of his arrival he put on these wonderful cookouts for the clergy and religious. I went to one of them and it was a lot of fun. In the midst of my gluttony I even performed an act of charity. The person tending the (open) bar turned out to be from El Salvador. In those days I could still speak a little Spanish, and we got to talking. I told her that she should put a glass for tips. Priests were generally cheap this way, I explained, but that was no reason to give up all hope. I mention all of this just to say that if I were to hope for a Dolan papacy, my first thought would be that perhaps he would do all this again, and now that he had followed me to become my bishop a third time, we would get another fun cookout. After almost a year away from the cuisine of my people, I can't deny that it's an attractive thought.

But in this I would be begging the Lord's own condemnation in John 6:26. If I may inculturate the language a little bit, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate the burgers and were filled.' What can I say? I'm a glutton and a drunkard. And though I take courage that the Lord himself was said to enjoy the company of gluttons and drunkards, I can't base my hopes for the conclave on it.

Come Holy Spirit, illumine the minds of our Cardinal electors with the fire of your love. Amen.


brian said...

Probably one of the most honest story about the conclave!

James said...

I have a similar reaction to the prospect of a Dolan papacy. I'm convinced that I once at lunch with Cardinal Dolan in Assisi back in 1995, when he was the rector of the North American College. I can't be sure because I didn't know him from Adam back then (I was 14 and on pilgrimage withe the Archdiocese of Boston), but I think it was him.

What's funny was that our fellow table mates - some adolescent girls - were acting like complete barbarians and were playing with their food. I can still see the look of disgust on [then Bishop or was it Msgr?] Dolan's face.

Brother Charles said...

Indeed. The food in Italy is usually too good to toy with.

Mark in Spokane said...

Okay, I'm going with Wuerl too! Back when he was sent in to watch over Archbishop Hunthousen of Seattle, I got to serve Mass for him (I was an altar boy in Anacortes, Washington when he visited the parish). I still remember talking to him in the sacristy -- he was very interested in what the altar boys thought about the liturgy! So, maybe I will get to say that I served Mass for the Pope!

Louis M said...

It seems to me, and I could be mistaken, but it sure seems to me, and probably to all the world, that you are willing to give Wuerl a whirl.

Harry J Tucci Jr said...

This Knight of Malta is out of the Church headed for SSPX if O'Malley is elected Pope!!!!! He is a heretic of the first class, he buried Teddy Kennedy in the Cathedral and in his eulogy proclaimed Kennedy as one of the greatest Saints to ever walk the earth. That tells me O'Malley is either an enthusiastic supporter of the murder of 57 million children through abortion or an opportunistic hustler who prostituted himself out to Kennedy family.

He would bring great disgrace to the Holy See and already is a disgrace to the Franciscans. You want to beat the bandwagon for a Capuchin then back Chaput even though he's not a Cardinal.

Anonymous said...

Thanks God Harry you are not my judge!