So You Want to be Pope? Here’s How


The Chair of St. Peter is empty. And the period of sede vacante has begun. Now we wait for the College of Cardinals to select the 266th successor of St. Peter. Empty Papal throne

While the papal conclave won’t begin until sometime between March 9 and 11, Cardinal Angelo Sodano just announced that the College of Cardinals will begin preliminary talks about what they are looking for in the next pontiff on March 4.

What they want in a pope, however, is probably at odds with what a growing number of U.S. Catholics want in a pope.

According to a recent Pew study, 46% of U.S. Catholics think the next pope should move the church in a “new direction,” especially when it comes to social issues like women’s ordination and gay marriage.

My hunch is that these people are more influenced by the “fair and flattering words” they hear on cable news and progressive media outlets than the Catechism itself, but I could be wrong.

Regardless, it’s good that a large number of people are interested in Benedict’s retirement. It’s unfortunate, however, that the majority of those people, the media in particular, don’t have a clue about basic Catholic doctrine or are downright hostile to it on a daily basis.

In an effort to calm your nerves over the countless number of attacks and misstatements put forth by the press over the past several days, I encourage you to read New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s blog, as his clear-tinking perspective should serve as a calming antidote, especially if you’ve been paying attention to the heretical demands of prominent left leaning Catholics like E.J. Dionne and Chris  Matthews.

I also urge you to tune into NBC, as it appears Fr. Robert Barron has been hired by the network to share his insight during the conclave.

Furthermore, I ask that you pray that the College of Cardinals be guided by the Holy Spirit. Too often, as this post from Jimmy Akin explains, Catholics think that the Holy Spirit simply “takes over” the conclave and hand picks the next pope. That’s not completely accurate, says Akin, and it’s something we need to realize is not entirely true.

Finally, in an effort to re-familiarize ourselves with the way the pope is elected, I’ve uploaded the video below. To most Catholic Vote readers it won’t be anything new, but for the 46% of Americans who want to move the church in a “new direction,” it probably will be. Enjoy


The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Stephen Kokx is a freelance writer and adjunct professor of political science living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Peace and Justice. His writing on religion, politics and Catholic social teaching has appeared in a number of outlets, including Crisis Magazine, The American Thinker and his hometown paper The Grand Rapids Press. He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and is a graduate of Aquinas College and Loyola University Chicago. Follow Stephen on twitter @StephenKokx

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