This phrase best summarizes our knowledge of the status of the election of the next Pope of the Catholic Church.
Thousands of reporters have descended upon Vatican City to report the breaking news stories of the day. Various media sites detail each of the Cardinals and make suggestions as to who may be the best possible candidates to become Pope.
Some suggest that the papacy will return to an Italian with Cardinal Schola of Milan or Cardinal Bagnasco of Genoa being mentioned. Another group of media believe that it's time for a Pope from near the equator with Cardinal Turkson of Ghana or Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras on the short list. Some postulate the possibility of an American Pope but this seems to be little more than just wishful thinking.
Yet, what they have found is a system that confounds the most media savvy reporter. Because, ultimately, outside of the College of Cardinals, nobody knows.
What we do know is that the Cardinals of the Church have been meeting in a series of meetings to discuss the state of the Church as well as its needs. This helps them to prayerfully consider the right man to elect to be the next Bishop of Rome. With the exception of a few pictures and a rare news conference, these meetings are closed to the media.
Once the Conclave begins, the Cardinals will begin the process to elect the next Pope. Much of the ritual of the election is intertwined with very specific prayer and Scripture reading. Accompanied with a silence from the voices from the outside, the Cardinal's attention is directed to listening to the "voice" of God. This ensures that they are receptive to God's will for the election.
For me as a priest who lives in the digital age, not knowing is a humbling and difficult place to be. "Knowledge is power" as the maxim goes. To not know means that I have to trust in someone else. To me, the good of this media silence heightens a trust that Jesus Christ is working through this whole process. The Cardinals also have the freedom to trust in each other and their own Christian faith.
In the ocean of things that we do not know, we can cling to that which we do know. Jesus Christ has pledged that He will remain with us until the end of the age (Mathew 28:20).
Fr. Jason Cargo is priest of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Corsicana. He will continue to provide insight into the selection of a new leader of the Catholic Church.
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