Ten days or so ago, as hinted at the time, I walked past Cheltenham Racecourse, where preparations were at an advanced stage for this week's invasion: the population of Cheltenham temporarily doubles. Tonight, at Mass, we were bidden to take home one of 115 slips of paper lying in a basket, each with the name of one of the Cardinals who will enter the Sistine Chapel on Cheltenham's opening day. However, "This isn't a sweepstake," our parish priest emphasised: "we should just pray especially for the Holy Spirit to guide the particular Cardinal whose name we pick out."
Mine was Cláudio Hummes, a 78-year-old Brazilian: quite a good egg, it seems from Wikipedia. Probably too old to be a strong candidate himself, he will surely back someone willing to lead the fight for social justice. I'm praying so anyway.
Half a million others have signed up on the Adopt-a-Cardinal website. Might all this prayer mean that the Catholic Church is not entirely a stranger to democracy?!