Ok, white smoke at the Vatican, which of course means that the conclave has chosen a new pope. If you'll recall, this is the second time we've seen this phenomenon in our lifetimes, as Pope Benedict was "elected" in 2005, following the death of Pope John Paul II that same year.
Being that I am fascinated with secret rituals and big decisions, I of course have about a thousand questions about this new Pope, the logistics surrounding his being chosen, his background, and of course, who is running the show between Popes? I'm not Catholic, so some of these things are confusing to me. These are more rhetorical questions than actual researchable inquiries, so I will list them here in order of how curious I am about them. Please take anything blasphemous with a grain of (Holy) salt.
1. Why did the last guy accept the job when he was so very old? I know there's some kind of scandal like he's having some health problems and so he had to retire (or maybe he's just stepping down to avoid having covered up some bad stuff. There, I said it). I feel like he maybe could have just retired from his day job as Cardinal in 2005 (when he was 80) without having to take on all this drama, right? Wasn't the retirement pay for Cardinal going to be good enough? Was it weird and shocking for an 80 year old man to be elected Pope, and was he like "Great, now I will have this job until I die?" Or, is there like no way to say no to the Pope job, and was it not cool for him to even retire from that? Like, don't they appoint you through the black smoke/ white smoke system, and then you just accept that God said you're the Pope, and that's the job you have until you die? How is it ok for Benedict to break thousands of years of tradition and just say he wants to retire, and yet, the church can't accept same-sex marriage? Also, is there any paperwork for the Pope retiring? Did he have to sign the WORLD'S LONGEST NDA?
2. Here's another "Pope logistics" question. Do you even have a choice when you're applying for that job, or does it just find you, like in "The Matrix?" Do they have a system where they just throw a bunch of Catholic people's hats in the ring, and whoever's name pops into everyone's head at the same time gets the white smoke? It seems like that voting system could be flawed, just wanted to point that out. Or, is the Pope job open to anyone, and since it comes from God, you just HAVE to take it? Like, could I be the next Pope? That would be crazy.
3. Another logistical question… Francis (the girliest Pope name I've personally ever heard) isn't starting work until Tuesday. Is there a Vice Pope who is holding down the fort in the meantime? What's the holdup? Do they have to get Vatican HR up there to get the new Pope to sign his medical insurance forms or something, or does this just count as an inter-office promotion because Francis was already a Cardinal? The cynical part of me wants to guess that he is spending the next five days undergoing intense media training for his new role as Pope, because this whole "new Pope" thing is way more of a PR move than the Vatican probably wants to admit. Although, sidenote to the Vatican, if you're planning a big PR move to replace an unpopular Pope when the Catholic Church is out of favor anyway, maybe vet your candidates a little better. It's "white smoke" day, and already Francis' views on same-sex marriage and gay adoption are out there and disappointing the world. Sigh. He's going to need to work on that whole platform. Perhaps since he has chosen a fresh name and is being called "The Pope of Firsts," he could issue a mandate for the Catholic Church to get with the times and start accepting gay people and giving them equal rights. That would be refreshing, would it not?
4. Francis got to pick his own name-- it's pretty cool that he went with the "one-name" thing, like he's the "Prince" of Popes. Logistics again-- do they also re-make the Pope-mobile to the new Pope's tastes? Does the Pope get to be all "Mariah Carey" in his rider demands? I think it would be super hilarous if the Pope's rider ended up on the Drudge Report. "Francis must only have red M & Ms in all containers at the vatican, for red is his favorite color....."
I know. I KNOW! I ask too many questions. But, since I am not Catholic and I don't believe what they believe, I doubt I am of any concern to them. What I'm saying is, I don't think my petty concerns are going to ruin Francis' big day.