You’ve made your picks for the Sweet Sistine, right? If you haven’t, check out the RNS papal brackets.
(Papal basketball fun fact: Pope John Paul II was an honorary member of the Harlem Globetrotters. True.)
This is a brutal tourney. Just look what happened to Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien. Had to resign after sex-abuse allegations. . . . . And then there were 115. (Cardinals of voting age in the conclave.)
Picking the pope ain’t for the faint-hearted, David Gibson explains.
It’s also not for the tardy. Cardinals who have not already booked their flights to Rome better hurry up, as Benedict XVI, who resigns on Thursday, has decided to allow the College of Cardinals to waive the usually required 15-20 day waiting period between the end of the pontificate and the beginning of the conclave.
Benedict will be “His Holiness Benedict XVI, Roman pontiff emeritus” in retirement. He gets to keep the cassock, but will lose the red shoes.
Benedict’s critics say he leaves a holy mess at the Vatican.
For the new pope’s eyes only: the Vatileaks investigation report.
Send peanut butter, says New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, if the conclave meets past Palm Sunday.
Much of the Catholic world and beyond may still be in shock over Benedict’s surprise announcement earlier this month that he would retire from office — and not die in it. Adelle Banks writes about other religious traditions and their leaders who have given some thought to the question: how long should an elderly religious leader lead?
Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson recently said a mean thing about Wiccans, “Any religion whose most sacred day is Halloween, I just can’t take seriously.” Then he challenged listeners. “I mean, call me a bigot.” Many thousands did. Now he’s apologizing. (He gets credit for a real apology, though, not one of those blame-the-victim “if I offended someone … ” non-apologies.)
The U.N. Human Rights Council hears that atheists face discrimination around the world.
Another apology: New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind went to a Purim party this weekend in blackface and an Afro and now says he’s sorry he offended people. On the Lauren Apology Strength Meter, he scores “weak.”
Speaking of apologies, I’m sorry, on behalf of all Americans, that we don’t pay hardly any attention to Canada, where a new poll shows that Quebec is no longer the most secular of the provinces. Check your Sweet Sistine bracket and notice Cardinal Marc Ouellet de Quebec.
Ouellet did say, not so long ago, that heading the Catholic Church would be “a nightmare.“ But should we hold that against him?
Islamist rebels in Cameroon are holding a French family, including three children, hostage, in response to France’s “war against Islam” in Mali.
Obit: Former surgeon general C. Everett Koop, who called for Christian compassion, got the facts out about AIDS, opposed abortion and supported sex education.
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- Lauren Markoe