Question 177:

It is said that during the election of a new Pope the Cardinals are guided by the Holy Spirit. Why does the Holy Spirit not show all Cardinals the same candidate, so that they do not have to vote several times?



The Holy Spirit who was given to the Christian community in its beginning and who is still being given today, does not act mechanically and automatically. He wishes believers to accept him with an open heart and in deep faith, and therefore acts within each one individually and in community in a gentle, rather invisible manner. The gifts of the Holy Spirit (charisms) are manifold and are not limited to those whose task is the leadership of the Church. In any case, the Holy Spirit permeates the natural gifts of individuals and groups. He is active in and through believers and does not extinguish their natural searching and questioning. He uses people’s reason, intelligence and all other gifts. Images such as water, oil and fire for example, express the close connection the Holy Spirit has with the natural gifts of people. And so the Holy Spirit is also active during the selection of a Pope, through the processes of consultation, information and all the other endeavours of the Cardinals to find the suitable candidate. The early Christian communities soon replaced the ancient selection process of casting lots as described in Acts 1:26, which is often mentioned in the Old Testament, with a less external procedure (cf. Acts 6:3-6; 13:2-3).

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