OK I guess I should blog something about the passing of Pope John Paul II as I was raised Catholic. Most of my friends while I believe they are spiritual they do not go to mass and most are not Catholic so I guess they have looked to me for reaction and answers. Really I can only think of one person locally I know who goes to Catholic mass every Sunday (let me be clear this is friends not my family). I seem to know more Jewish and Mormon people who are regular attendees of a service. Twenty seven years is basically most of my friend’s life time and so the death of a pope is really new to them. Personally I vaguely remember when there was a change in pope and some of the big deal at the time (I was in grade school) was that he was Polish. Most of my friends have been to Rome and the Vatican on vacation. Many have gone to a mass there and seen the pope. In my immediate family my mom and youngest brother road a bus out with other kids his age from the Seattle area to Denver to see him on one of the few North American visits he made over the years. So I guess I am in the minority in not actually seeing him in person.
For those of you who have asked what happens next I might first refer you to Angles & Demons by Dan Brown only because it is a good book. The replacement of the pope is a fairly simple process. About 15 days from now all of the Cardinals under the age of 80 in the Roman Catholic Church will gather in the Vatican to vote – 117 in all. I believe that they take only two votes a day and a candidate must win by two-thirds majority vote. The ballots are done in secret and then they are burned. If there is not a winner then they add chemicals so that the smoke burns black. If there is a winner then the smoke will appear white. After 30 rounds of voting if the cardinals have not elected a winner then they move to a simple majority instead of two-thirds.
As an aside my mom and my aunt are on a trip in Europe right now on a short vacation. They went to mass at Notre Dame in Pairs which was planned months ago. What an interesting day to go.