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Who is being overlooked in the media coverage of the papal transition?

Posted By March 1, 2013 | 5:10 pm | Commentary
By Stephen Kent Catholic News Service There is a great difference in how an institution is affected during the change of its leader, whether it be by events such as the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI or the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs. That difference is illustrated by the swirl of events surrounding the conclave for the election of the next pope.

 

By Stephen Kent Catholic News Service

There is a great difference in how an institution is affected during the change of its leader, whether it be by events such as the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI or the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs. That difference is illustrated by the swirl of events surrounding the conclave for the election of the next pope.

It is the difference of contrasting paradigms: one that sees the church as no more than an organization; the other that sees it as a community of faith with assurances by its founder.

The late Steve Jobs was not only the founder but also the prime mover of the Apple culture that prized innovation. His death in 2011 resulted in many articles about the future of the company without him and what qualities would be needed by his successor.

The former Pope Benedict XVI also was the chief executive. He did not depend on charisma but on grace as vicar of Christ on earth. The soul of Apple leaves with Jobs. That’s not so with the papacy.

The media sees the surprise vacancy through the organization paradigm it uses with events such as national elections and the Academy Awards. It focuses on “front-runners.”

Since secular media has to deal with events on a human scale, the only one it knows, it reports everything, even a papal election, as if it were a presidential election, a coup or a movie inspired by Vatican conspiracy themes.

Who is being overlooked in all this? God.

Imagine that, in this day and age, that the presence of God can be neglected. It is understandable and amusing to see the papal transition through the smoke and mirrors of the political process portrayed by the media.

Where will Benedict live? Will he interfere with his successor? Even what he will wear in retirement, these are questions fueling concerns of schism, we are told.

Some look at the process through this prism to assess the chances of a particular cardinal becoming pope. Some cardinals, it is noted, speak only their native language with feeble Italian. Some are from the “wrong country.” If this is a hindrance to an otherwise capable person chosen by God, won’t that be taken care of? To think otherwise would be limiting the power of God.

We should reflect on the unusual nature of a papal resignation that, after all, has not occurred in 600 years. Is it a precursor to a complete overhaul of the bureaucracy or will the successor pope continue the present direction?

We could be living in a major piece of history right now. It could be a watershed event, such as what led to the Second Vatican Council, God’s move to shake things up, or it could be nothing. The important thing is that God is working within his church. Prior to the conclave and after, it is necessary to discern the will of God in the years to come and conform to it.

The media loves smoke and mirrors. We’ll settle for white smoke and the continued presence and protection of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church.

Kent is the retired editor of archdiocesan newspapers in Omaha and Seattle. Contact him at: considersk@gmail.com.