Black smoke yesterday, black smoke today. Not time to get concerned by a long shot, but some people are getting anxious.
In the past weeks since Benedict announced his resignation, I have seen no shortage of articles and blog posts about the terrible abuses of power in the Vatican. The secular side is appalled by the male hierarchy, the sexual abuse scandal, and the continued stance against contraception, among others. The religious side, particularly those faithful Catholics to whom this conclave matters a great deal, are anguished by reports of a powerful homosexual lobby amongst the higher-ups in the Vatican, or a concentration of power in the hands of the “liberals”, or the election of a cardinal who has failed to take swift and decisive action against priests who have sexually abused children.
Before I was a Catholic, I would have watched this conclave and read those articles with fervor, collecting yet more evidence in my mind for why this Church was a wretched blight on the face of Christianity. “Nothing changes,” I would have muttered. “From the Crusades and the Inquisition to the Borgias and the sexual abuse scandal, the Catholic Church is full of corruption and lies. It’s an embarrassment to the name of Christ.”
This time I read the articles reluctantly, and with sadness. I have no doubt that much, and maybe most, of what has been alleged is true. And yet, I’m not watching that stove-pipe chimney with anxiety, biting my nails and praying desperately that God will save the good bishops from the hands of the evil ones. I’m praying for guidance and goodness, yes, but with a peace that is surprising to me. I think it’s because, while watching this conclave and reading those articles, I’m saying to myself, “Nothing changes. From the Crusades and the Inquisition to the Borgias and the sexual abuse scandal, the Church is full of corruption and lies. That’s why she is a testament to Christ-because she endures still, and still among her ranks saints raise their voices along with sinners, praising God and proclaiming Truth.”
Let nothing disturb thee,
nothing affright thee;
all things are passing,
God never changeth!
Patient endurance attaineth to all things;
who God possesseth
in nothing is wanting;
alone God sufficeth.