It is a great grace to be meeting with and speaking to so many Cardinals from around the world, all of us given the incredible task of electing the next Pope.
But one aspect of this search has been to quietly compile a list of those criteria and characteristics which both the Cardinals and Catholics are looking for in our next Successor to Peter. The result: there is no human being on earth who could meet all of those requirements!
Among some of the musings--we need a Pope who: speaks at least six languages fluently; who has served as a pastoral priest and bishop for many decades; who has extensive administrative and financial experience; who is an intellectual and scholar; who is an ordinary person who can relate to people; who can relate to college graduates and to migrant farm workers; who can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that attracts hundreds of millions of new followers; who spends hours each day in prayer, while appearing on numerous television programs; who can understand Latin, and be on Facebook and Twitter at the same time; who can engage young people while consoling the elderly; who can speak clearly about Angola in one moment, and Tibet in the next; who can overnight increase vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. And that's just the beginning of the list!
So, where do I turn? To Peter, the first one to be the "rock" upon which the Church of Jesus Christ is built. A fisherman, not a graduate from an elite Jerusalem university; an impetuous person who often speaks without thinking; one who denies he even knew Jesus Christ three times--but repents; one who pleads, "Lord, depart from me for I am a sinner"; one who eventually becomes a courageous proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus; one who is finally crucified, upside down, in his final act of self-giving.
My prayer these days is not that I cast my vote for the "perfect" Successor of Peter, but rather, that my vote is for the one whom God has chosen to serve the Church for the coming years. This, indeed, is our mystery of faith!