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VATICAN CITY (RNS) The tradition of voting for the new pontiff in the Sistine Chapel dates back to the Renaissance, but the location of the voting didn't become a fixed feature of the conclaves until the 19th century -- and only with John Paul II's rules did the Sistine Chapel become the official theater of papal elections.

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  1. FaithInTheFuture

    In search of a Pope:

    What is Christianity? Compassion? Love? Self-sacrifice? Self-loathing?

    The challenge of the next Pope…

    7 billion people live in the world today.
    1.1 billion people claim to be Catholic, though many stopped going to church.

    2.4 billion use the Internet.

    We live in a world where a single message can reach 1/3rd of the population in seconds. A single message can cause suicides and heartache across the entire world. A single message can expose intolerance, abuse, and even prejudice toward individuals.

    God doesn’t make mistakes, humans do.

    Humans are in charge of understanding God’s will. It is easy to see how those rules were biased in the past.

    They lived in a small village where people died young. If a few were mistreated, they moved to another village and were never heard from again. Many of our saints and prophets interpreted their writings based on their limited experience.

    Now these minorities can no longer be EXCLUDED.

    Now, the Internet connects us globally with friends and family of all different cultures, skin colors, sexual orientations, and political views. When a leader condemns an individual’s entire life, we all feel their pain.

    People used to turn to the church for support, but now entire families turn away from the church as the world accepts truths that the church refuses.

    Many leaders know that bible interpretations are imperfect. Even the cardinals have differing opinions. The stronger they stand against recognized truths, the less a future society will accept them.

    Jesus made it clear that you should treat others the way you wish to be treated.

    The next Pope faces many challenges, but the greatest will be to offer a vision of hopeful and fulfilling lives to ALL individuals.

    An example is needed:

    Throughout all of history, 1 in 12 people have always been Gay, and it shows up randomly in ALL families in ALL cultures. Some are even born naturally with both male and female organs. I think it’s God’s simple test to see if we can treat everyone kindly.

    Over the last few years, the world expressed acceptance that love between two humans isn’t limited to opposite sexes. Majorities in every culture now recognize the suffering the church has inflicted on this minority. Compassion is winning over prejudice. Almost every family is discovering they have at least one gay relative. Families now refuse to condemn those loved ones to a lifetime of secrets and misery.

    7 billion people in the world today.
    0.6 billion people in the world are gay.

    I doubt God wanted nearly 10% of his people to leave miserable, self-loathing, lonely, celibate, abused lives, with no hope of any true love over the 90 years of their lives.

    Gay couples are more capable of raising children than single parents. Like any other family, adoption lets them lead rich full lives, and they make excellent grandparents. They also represent a larger population than the total number of church-going Catholics.

    Since Christmas 2012, I had a recurring dream that made little sense until the Pope resigned. I saw myself writing this letter.

    A man, like the Pope, can make a mistake that causes mass suicides, cause families to tell their kids the life they lead is WRONG, and cause individuals to self-loath themselves into thinking they were God’s mistake. That man can also be given the insight that perhaps he made a mistake that destroyed the lives of others. He can realize God’s world is more complex than he could handle. He prevented treating individuals as if they were part of God’s plan.

    If people make other people’s entire lives miserable on earth, why would they expect a place in heaven. If people can find a way to treat every life as if it falls into God’s master plan, full of hope and love, then they are the ones who have made heaven on earth and deserve a place in an everlasting future.

    Prejudice and discrimination brings some together against others; Compassion brings them all.

    In the dream, I signed this letter by my Confirmation name:
    –Faithfully, Eugene

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