Amid the smoke

Dariela Aquique

A street of Santiago de Cuba.

HAVANA TIMES – In Vatican City, tourists and the faithful awaited the verdict of the conclave of Cardinals; but the first show of smoke was black, indicating that the 115 cardinals had not arrived at any consensus.

As a result, the Holy Seat was still without a Pope and people began to scatter, waiting for the second round to see if the white smoke would then be rising from the chimneys of the San Pablo Basilica.

The prelates who were gathered in the Sistine Chapel were trying to designate a successor to Benedict the XVI.  It was a difficult task at a time when, as we all know, the Catholic Church is facing one of the greatest crises in its history.

Scandals of economic and moral corruption have abounded, especially the cases of child abuse that have been denounced in several countries, some involving several of the Cardinals themselves.  This would make the selection a thorny one.

How to avoid a mistake and show the world a tainted Pontiff?  How delicate a matter is this responsibility of choosing the representative of God on earth (according to Christianity).

What a dilemma of credibility the Holy Seat must confront, one where the veracity of their sacred commandments could be cast into doubt.

Nonetheless, several names were being mentioned early on as possible successors to the Pope: Angelo Scola of Italy, Marc Ouellet of Canada, Timothy Dolan of the United States, Reihard Marx of Germany, Francis Arinze of Nigeria and Peter Tukson of Ghana, among others.

As if it were a political election campaign that was trying to demonstrate its democracy, two Africans were touted together with the representatives of the great powers. But the media didn’t give much publicity to the names of the Latin American Cardinals, whose qualities could possibly be considered far superior to those of any other candidate.

Days later and following several more rounds, the Pontiff was selected: to the surprise of many, a Latin American.  In the end, this was a fairly logical move, given that the greatest number of believers in the Catholic faith are in Latin America.

So those who still believe in or need a Pope, the lay sisters and ordained nuns who clamor for the approval of a female priesthood, or simply the media and other curious people who waited between the black smoke and the white outside of the Vatican now have their Holy Father.

Will he be able to extinguish the dark clouds of smoke that surround the Holy Church?

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

Dariela Aquique has 233 posts and counting. See all posts by Dariela Aquique

2 thoughts on “Amid the smoke

  • From “Reader Supported News” An interesting take.Maybe we should cut him some slack.I am not a practicing Catholic ,but many are.

    Dear Rightwing Catholic Islamophobes

    By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

    31 March 13

    Francis on Maundy Thursday declined to address enormous crowds. Instead
    he went to a prison to emulate Jesus’s act of humility before his
    crucifixion in washing the feet of his 12 disciples. The pope washed and
    kissed the feet of 12 inmates, two of them women and two of them Muslim
    (one of the women was Muslim). It is reported that some of the
    prisoners broke down in tears.

    CNN reports,

    Pope Francis’s willingness to wash the feet of a
    Muslim woman shows his concern for the very lowest stratum of society.
    Europe has millions of Muslims, and some are well off and well
    integrated into society. But many Muslims who immigrated into France and
    Italy for work got caught when the jobs dried up, and live in poor
    areas of the cities, being excluded from mainstream society or much hope
    of betterment. Women have lower status than men in such communities, so
    a poor Muslim woman in jail is just about the bottom of the social

    Pope Francis is from Argentina, which has a large,
    successful Arab-heritage community that includes Muslims, and he is said
    to have deeply disagreed with his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, over
    the latter’s Regensburg speech in which he said things that Muslims
    found insulting.

    The thing that strikes me about all this is that there
    is a small strand of American Catholic conservatism that frankly
    despises both the poor and Muslims, and is one of the pillars of
    prejudice against Muslims (some call it Islamophobia) in the United
    States. Most Catholics in opinion polls have a more positive view of
    Islam and Muslims than is common among evangelical Protestants, but the
    rightwingers among them have a thing about Muslims (and about poor

    An example is former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. Rep. Peter King of New York also comes to mind. Robert Spencer has made a career of defaming Islam and Muslims. Then there is professional bully Sean Hannity
    of Faux News. Paul Ryan uses the insulting language of “Islamic
    fascism” (fascism is a Western invention; most fascists in history have
    been of Christian heritage; and it has nothing to do with the Muslim
    faith). Ryan, far from serving the poor, wants to cut social services to
    them by savaging the government budget, and openly boasts of following
    prophet of selfishness Ayn Rand.

    These purveyors of hate speech against Muslims claim
    to be Catholics, and some of them are annoyingly Ultramontane, insisting
    on papal infallibility and trying to impose their values on all

    Yet the person they hold to be the vicar of Christ has
    just given humankind a different charge, of humility and of service to
    the least in society, many of whom are Muslims.

    So when will we see Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity and
    the others go to a prison to comfort inmates, and serve the Muslims
    among them? When will we see them kiss a Muslim’s feet? Or are they
    cafeteria Catholics, parading only the values that accord with their Ayn
    Rand heresy?

  • Dariela,

    As a leader in the Church during the Argentine Dirty War, the current Pope Francis turned in the names of his fellow Jesuit priests who were working with the poor and therefore a threat to the military dictatorship.

    This policy was probably in obedience to the Pope ordering activist priests who were engaged in liberation theology ( following the TEACHINGS of Christ) to quit their activism or lose their priesthood.

    So Pope Francis APPEARS to be the Pope of the poor and the big question is whether he is playing up the needs of the poor out of deep guilt genuine love for the poor and obedience to the actual teaching of Christ …. or both…..or neither .

    He could be just playing a part and is still totally devoted to the right-wing, pro-capitalist, pro-dictatorship, anti-communist Church of the past.

    No rational person can take the Church at its word as regards its turn toward christianity IN PRACTICE.

    It is just not what the Roman Catholic Church does.

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