Tuesday, 5 March 2013
The boys in school are always fascinated by Cardinals. They do not have a great grasp on the hierarchy of the Church, even after much teaching by me... invincible ignorance or unclear teaching? Hmmm.
It is fine saying that Bishops are the really important thing, but, and here out of the mouth of babes etc., they know that Cardinals are just so cool, and so very important to have the role of electing the Pope. And they wear snazzy red.
So we underestimate the power of Cardinals at our peril. I do not mean the power they have in the conclave, but the power they have in the popular imagination. I suppose that the popular description of 'Princes of the Church' has now been quietly dropped in order to embrace the humility of the Church, but it should not be so.
Of course the Apostles were Bishops, and the chief of them was the Vicar of Christ, our first Pope, St Peter, but how wonderful to think of them as Princes of the Church! In the eyes of the world, how could this raggle taggle bunch of fishermen, tax collectors, zealots and the rest be of any importance? They did not have the lineage of princedom, nor, let's face it, the track record. Princes of the Church being dragged through the mud to their death, running away and being brought back by the miraculous appearance of angels, being flayed alive, hung upside down on the cross...
Any yet they were the first true Princes of the Church. Our Saviour was a King, but his kingdom was not of this world, and our Princes are princes indeed, but following their heavenly master - not the whims and dictates of this vale of tears.
So let our Princes gather and fulfil their function. Let them shimmer in the reflected glory of their King and render to Him an account of their prayers and deliberations.
Let them elect our new Pope.