After the muted coverage during the nine-day mourning period for Pope John Paul II, the subject of the Roman Catholic papacy again predominates the news.
Many media folks seem a bit piqued at all the secrecy shrouding the process. Sorry, guys and gals, these are the rules since 1271. There are no press passes into the cardinals' conclaves.
Others in the media seem intent on turning the papal election into the Kentucky Derby, or maybe a Catholic Superbowl. ABC News reports that Irish bookmakers are having quite a party with papal gambling. Some people might be shocked that a Catholic country like Ireland is making sport of the somber proceedings. Coming from an Irish background, I would be shocked if I read otherwise.
Beginning with St. Peter and including John Paul II, there have been 264 popes. St. Peter's was the longest reign, 35 years, from 32-67 A.D. Blessed Pius IX was pope from 1846-1878, 32 years. John Paul II's papcy was 26 years that changed our modern world. His well-traveled shoes will not be easy to fill.
But filled, they will be. During the first week in April, the world seemed to step back and stand quietly as Catholics around the globe grieved, and as nations joined together to pay tribute to the life and good works of a great pope. Now the world holds its breath with us, watches, and waits for the white smoke. Before the month of April concludes, the Fisherman's shoes will again tread the earth, to be worn by the newly chosen leader of a very old Church.