How to Elect a Pope: A Guide for the Perplexed

Dorian Speed and a group of Catholic bloggers, catechists, and writers are doing their part to fight the stupid.

Every time a mainstream reporter or pundit opens his or her yap about the church, the pope, conclave, the next pope, or pretty much anything having to do with religion, brain cells die. Mollie Hemingway and Joanne McPortland have already cataloged some of more laughable pronouncements that slipped past all those  J-school professional and layers of fact checking, but you can count on more “crow’s ears” and “Is it unusual for the pope to also be the bishop of Rome?” gaffs in the weeks ahead.

That’s what makes so important. It lays out our beliefs and practices in clear language that even a New York Times writer can understand. There are sections on the papacy, the conclave, the work of choosing the next pope, symbolism, and more. People can even submit questions. There’s no more need for journalists to search for a professor dumb enough to ponder if a pope is still infallible when he retires, as if that’s a question that takes more than two letters to answer.

Dorian and friends have done a vital service to the Church, so check it out, share it, and circulate it. If you know any reporters, make sure they see it.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • victor

    Oh, man. I sure hope Ben’dict gits t’keep his crows ear n’ Mater n’ white cat sock n’ the zoo ghetto when he retires, but they’ll prob’ly take those ‘way from him when that seal busts his ring.

    (I’ve shared and circulated the link).

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  • Jason

    Hello. I am a journalist. I’ve actually been spending a lot of time researching how the Catholic Church works and will choose its new pope in preparation for this time. Not being Catholic, I knew I needed to do some work, and I fully acknowledge there are a lot of uninformed journalists out there when it comes to the Pope and the conclave. However, I think you are missing the point of journalism here: Our job is to inform the public about the process. In order to do that, we have to ask the stupid questions. For instance, while it may seem completely obvious to you that Benedict will not be infallible after he resigns, that question came up at least three times from different people I deal with. The only way to get the answers is to ask an expert the “stupid” question. While I applaud the website, I think it’s a little disingenuous on your part to criticize the journalists who are covering this story for asking the questions they have to ask to get the information the public needs in order to better understand this unique situation.

  • S. Murphy

    Fair points, Jason. I guess the exasperation, for more-or-less well-informed Catholics, lies in hearing these questions treated as great mysteries by talking heads, when they could have just gotten a spox from the archdiocese, or the priest down the street, or somebody, to come on the show and give a hip-pocket class — but even more so in the editorial speculations about how the next pope will have to be more NPR’s or the NYT’s type of guy, or the Church won’t survive, etc, etc.

  • Dorian Speed

    Thomas, thanks for helping spread the word!

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  • chris

    Would that more journalists actually still thought their job was to inform people. i see a lot of editorializing passing itself off as journalism.

    It may be a journalist’s job to ask “the stupid questions,” but you don’t have to report all the questions, if you present the answers truthfully and plainly enough.