14 March 2013
Did the cardinals have a hidden agenda in electing another old man to the to the papacy?
Now that Benedict XVI has shown the world that a pope can retire when he feels a bit past it, the cardinals must have felt liberated to hand the top job to another old man.
And how very polite commentators have become. There was a time when the advanced age of the new Pope would have been a major focus for comment and complaint. But there doesn't seem to have been much of either (yet).
Since qualifying for bus and rail passes, I don't feel at all inhibited about saying that I think there's something vaguely barmy about cardinals electing a 76 year old to take charge of an organisation as big and complex as the Roman Catholic church.
Unless, of course, their hidden and hush-hush agenda was to accept the implicit change in job specification decreed by Benedict - i.e. that popes can now retire whenever they feel like it.
By opening the papacy up to anyone below the age of 80 (males only, of course) the cardinals are giving more of them a chance to become infallible. And, if old fogeys are now to become the norm rather than the exception, the Roman Catholic church won't have to suffer for too long from any mistakes the 'electorate' happens to make (as, for example, the pope emeritus?).