Hope for the next Pope? Nope.

I am with Garry Wills in finding myself unable to get too excited about the selection of a new pope:

[A] new pope will be elected by cardinals who were elevated to office by the very popes who reaffirmed eternal truths like the teaching on contraception. They were appointed for their loyalty, as were the American bishops who stubbornly upheld the contraception nonsense in our elections. Will the new conclave vote for a man who goes against the teachings of his predecessors? Even if they do, can the man chosen buck the structure through which he rose without kicking the structure down? These considerations have given the election of new popes the air of watching Charlie Brown keep trying to kick the football, hoping that Lucy will cooperate.

The selection process is utterly bereft of the characteristics of participation and transparency that virtually all of us would demand as criteria of legitimacy in any other context. It is possible, I suppose, that the process will somehow misfire and yield a Pope who affirms values of openness and accountability. Now that would surely be a sign of divine intervention. 

Eduardo M. Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. The views expressed in the piece are his own, and should not be attributed to Cornell University or Cornell Law School.

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