As the 115 Roman Catholic cardinals gather in Rome to elect a new Pope, the only word that sounds right is one that keeps getting repeated: conclave. That’s what the cardinals put together constitute, by their own admission. Conclave, by the way, is another word for lock-up, which in the case of the current cardinals perhaps shouldn’t be voluntary. Cardinals are sort of like governors but with bespoke gowns, hats, swag and servants—and no direct responsibility to the people. (They are appointed, not elected.) This particular group and its immediate predecessors are men (and they are all men, by some strict and paltry definition of word) who together bear responsibility for worldwide systemic sexual abuse of the most innocent in their care, young children—abuse which they knowingly facilitated, hid and tacitly condoned for at least a half century. If a group of governors did that, what do you think would happen?
Where is the outrage? Who cares about the color of the smoke they blow? They don’t: it’s as superannuated as the gathering itself. Want proof it’s all passé? The Vatican has had to install security to make sure no cardinal tweets his hand early from under Michelangelo’s fresco. Yet there it is–the holy smoke on the front page of nytimes.com. It’s not like global warming. If we ignore these people and their organization it will eventually go away.