عدد المساهمات : 38334
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
|موضوع: رد: Picking the Pope: Holy Spirit or 'Groupthink'? الأحد 10 مارس 2013, 01:41|| |
Picking the Pope: Holy Spirit or
تكبير الصورةتصغير الصورة تم تعديل ابعاد هذه الصورة. انقر هنا لمعاينتها بأبعادها الأصلية.
Cardinals gather on a side balcony of St. Peter's Basilica as
they await the public introduction of the new pope April 19, 2005. (CNS/Nancy
Wiechec)Vatican City/ ncronline.org
In Catholic theology, as in the popular
imagination, the closed-door conclave to elect a new pope is supposed to be
guided by the Holy Spirit.
There's no horse-trading or lobbying, no insider
deal-making or outside influences allowed. Just red-robed cardinals solemnly
entering the Sistine Chapel, accompanied only by prayers and their consciences,
sitting beneath Michelangelo's fresco of the Last Judgment and discerning God's
will on who should be the next successor to St. Peter.
At least that's the theory. The last millennium
has shown that papal elections can be fraught with politics or worse, and can
take months or even years of wrangling to reach a resolution.
In the last century, however, as both security and
secrecy improved, papal elections have swung sharply in the direction of
brevity; since 1903, conclaves have averaged a mere three days in duration, and
some -- including the last one, in 2005 -- lasted a mere 24 hours.
What accounts for this historic shift? While the
Holy Spirit may be getting more efficient, behavioral scientists and church
experts argue a new group dynamic is playing a growing role as well, and that
the "bandwagon effect" is now proving as powerful as any sacred (or profane)
electioneering did before.
That's the upshot of a 2006 study by an Australian
researcher who analyzed the voting patterns from seven conclaves in the 20th
century (reconstructed from leaks that emerged afterward). The study found that
cardinals who changed their minds did so chiefly because they saw the votes
tipping toward a single candidate and went with the expected winner.
These "strategic" voters -- as opposed to
"sincere" voters who backed the same person through each ballot -- thus pushed
the conclave to a speedier-than-expected resolution, according to J.T. Toman, an
expert in econometrics at the University of Sydney and author of the paper, "The
Papal Conclave: How do Cardinals Divine the Will of God?"
"There are two sources of information in the
conclave cardinals could use to estimate the probability of election success for
a cardinal: the observed vote counts and the verbal communications that occur at
lunch and in the evenings," Toman wrote.
<p align="justify">At the end of the day, she said, the subtle
arm-twisting over coffee or cocktails didn't matter so much. Instead, "the
observed vote tallies" proved to be "the dominant force" in rallying the
cardinals around a single candidate.
Although Toman did not include the conclave of
April 2005 in her study, a version of the bandwagon dynamic seemed to hold true
there, as well: Over the course of four ballots, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger moved
from just under 50 votes in the first round to 65 in the second and then 84 by
the final tally, surpassing the necessary two-thirds threshold needed to become
Pope Benedict XVI. He easily outpaced a lone rival, reportedly Argentine
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who will also take part in this month's
But there are other factors peculiar to the
College of Cardinals that may also be spurring the rush to judgment.
One of them is the expansion of the College of
Cardinals, which has doubled in size in recent decades. "The larger the group,
the greater the likelihood of a bandwagon effect occurring," John-Peter Pham, a
former Vatican diplomat, writes in his book "Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the
Scenes of Papal Death and Succession."
In addition, Pham says, the College of Cardinals
is now far more diverse -- there are electors from some 50 countries -- and
because they don't know each other that well, many of the cardinals are likely
to go with what they perceive to be the wisdom of the crowd, as represented by
the vote tallies.
Another element in the mix: the strong desire to
make the conclave's outcome to appear to be the result of inspiration more than
aspiration. A quick conclave demonstrates unity of mind and purpose, whereas a
drawn-out conclave could signal dissension that might undermine a future pope's
standing -- especially if the choice were controversial, as Benedict's was
expected to be.
"If it was to be Ratzinger, it must be quick and
clear-cut. Otherwise the reception would be disastrous," Canadian Cardinal Marc
Ouellet has said in explaining the thinking of Benedict's supporters in the 2005
The cardinals who are preparing for the coming
papal election seem just as motivated to make a decision quickly and cleanly,
which is why there appears to be a push by many to extend the pre-conclave
discussions, called the General Congregations, so that the cardinals can find a
consensus ahead of the actual voting.
"Someone quoted St. Thomas of Aquinas, who said
you should be slow in deliberation and quick in decision-making," Chicago
Cardinal Francis George said this week after the initial session. "So,
decision-making is the conclave, and deliberation is the General
Does that mean a conclave isn't guided by the Holy
Spirit -- that it's not much different from the election of a class president,
where the cool kids have the upper hand going in and everyone else just goes
along with the inevitable? Not necessarily.
For one thing, the recent history of conclave
balloting also shows that if the momentum for the early favorite breaks, then
all bets are off as the electors step back to reassess and find another
candidate -- albeit one who is likely to gain consensus quickly and win
Moreover, going into this conclave, there appears
to be no clear favorite to rally around quickly, and the cardinals also seem
determined to have as open a race as possible.
At the end of the day, group dynamics will surely
play a part. But the Holy Spirit blows where it will, and who will emerge as
pope is still anybody's guess.