24/7 Pope watch

March 15, 2013 

The nonstop news cycle works for and against us in a lot of ways.

It’s strange to think about the lack of the “scrawl” at the bottom of the screen during such events as the Shuttle disaster, the Reagan assassination attempt or even during major news stories into the 90s.

Of course, Sept. 11, 2001 changed much of that and, honestly, changed how we consume and dissect the news, much of that thanks to the addition of so many cable channels and online news options.

Even with the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, many of us were not linked in to the social media circuit and, therefore, not subject to nonstop status updates and world happenings.

But as word got out that a Cardinal leaked the name of John Paul II’s predecessor, Joseph Ratzinger, before it was official, things have been on lockdown in Vatican City.

And that surely has to drive the media bonkers.

Since Pope Benedict’s announcement that he was leaving his papal duties, the cameras have descended on the Vatican in anticipation of the conclave and ultimate decision on who would be the 266th Pope and spiritual leader of 1.2 worldwide Catholics.

Unlike 2005, we now have a more intense Facebook presence, Twitter and other social media sites adding to the madness.

That the white smoke was seen and the unspoken decision lingered around the world was a minor miracle in itself. Everywhere you looked, Pope Watch 2013 had surrounded us.

In a time where all eyes are on the Catholic Church due to the tragic rash of sexual abuse cases, particularly in the United States, the fascinations with who will be the next leader are obvious.

Many had a feeling it wouldn’t be an American. And another Italian seemed as much as a frontrunner as any.

As it turns out, Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Francis I as he will be known – was also in the running in 2005 and, even at 76, is being lauded early on as a reformer and someone able to tackle the issues of the day.

He’s not young. And he certainly won’t serve as long as John Paul II. But here’s hoping, and praying, Pope Francis I can bring some order to the faith and proceed as the spiritual leader that many Catholics have been missing for some time.

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John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Cass County Democrat Missourian. To comment, call 816-380-3228 or e-mail jbeaudoin@demo-mo.com.

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