God forbid, this Conclave might – say some – be a long one. I already see the headline of the secular rubbish press, “Church divided” and the like. If we still don't have a new Pope come Wednesday evening, be assured the usual falsehoods will be spread again, and the new Pope will be described as a “lame duck” before even talking of sexual scandals…
Now, it might be good if you would remind your friends, colleagues and acquaintances that the duration of a Conclave is nothing to do with the strength or authority of the Papacy that follows it.
Pope Ratzinger was elected rather fast, but not even his most fanatical supporters would call his a strong Papacy. St. Pius X, on the other hand, was elected after a rather prolonged conclave, but not even his worst enemies would have denied his was a very strong Papacy.
The Press must write something, because newspapers must be sold every day. This morning I have read an article that managed to give chances to 22 Cardinals, as if its author were terrified at the thought of not having the name of the chosen one mentioned in the article; therefore, his idea of avoiding it was to make the article useless.
(As we are there, I'd like to know how big parties can stage elaborate election procedures going on for weeks before electing their boss, but a Pope must be found in a handful of ballots…).
We should, however, not be influenced by the press, and try to avoid as far as we can that the uninformed, the simple and the outright stupid parrot the rubbish they see on TV.
A long Conclave may well produce a strong Pope because a Pope is not like a party leader, who is weakened if he elected with a tiny majority or after a prolonged process. Ed Milliband made it with a very slim majority, and everyone knew he could be easily ousted and was basically on probation (still is, I'd say). The Pope must not win general elections, cannot be ousted, does not need the approval of the party basis and can, if he so wishes, even ignore internal opposition. Once he is Pope, he is in charge exactly in the same way whether it took three or eighty-tree ballots to elect him.
Please let us be fast in pointing out to this in the office etc. should the need arise. If we are going towards a long conclave, we should at least fight the prejudice with energy.