I am praying for the cardinals.

 In a system that is supposed to use group inspiration to discern the will of God, I hope they get it right.

 I hope that they pick the man the world needs.

 I am not Catholic. I don’t believe in the Catholic Church. I don’t believe in its teachings or in its claims of divine authority.

 But I value it and its potential.

 Since the Civil War, Catholicism has been the largest religion in America. With a billion members, it is the largest religious organization in the world.

 It is a big deal, and it has the potential to be even bigger.

 So, I hope the cardinals get it right.

 As the world watches a little stovepipe in Rome, the stakes are high.

 Hopefully the cardinals will grasp that.

 Contrary to what the analysts are saying, it’s not about who can rein in the bureaucracy or kick the crap out of the Curia. It’s not about fixing a corrupt bank or making a choice that is demographically and geographically correct.

 It’s about finding a spokesman for Christ.

 World Christianity is going weak in the knees. Secularism and Islam are the world religions on the rise. Christianity is dead in Europe and sick in America. The developing world has an eagerness to convert to Christianity, but limited interest in living Christianity. Christians are being violently expelled in the Middle East and culturally marginalized in Europe.

 In the battle for men’s souls, and for cultural dominance in the developed nations, contemporary Christianity has lost the courage of its convictions, it has lost the will to fight and the ability to perpetuate itself.

 And that is cataclysmic.

 Not just because it endangers the salvation of countless millions, but because it weakens the greatest force for cultural good and societal success of the last thousand years.

 The most successful flowering of human civilization has been in Christian nations. Liberty and prosperity are fruits of the Christian walk. It is the foundation of modernity.

 And without Christian values, liberty and peace are not achievable.

 So Christianity needs a voice.

 It needs a cheerleader.

 It needs a passionate proponent.

 It needs a Paul to take it anew to the world.

 That role ought properly to be filled by every Christian. In obedience to the commandment to be the light of the world, every Christian should use his station and opportunities in life to declare in word and deed the good news of Jesus Christ.

 But somebody needs to spearhead it.

 Somebody, or some several somebodies, needs to raise the standard high and call the world to repentance.

 It is natural that the pope of Rome should be one of those somebodies.

 Perhaps he should be the somebody.

 Somebody who can, in the spirit of love and faith, boldly and clearly declare to the world the way, the truth and the life. There was no confusion or equivocation in the teachings of Christ or Peter, and there should not be any in the Roman successor to Peter today.

 We need a pope who declares Christianity as not a religion, but the religion. A pope who can look at the amorality of today and declare it the immorality of yesterday and eternity.

 We need a pope who is bigger than the Vatican, and bigger than the Catholic Church.

 A pope who can realize and explain that ordaining women and marrying gays, like birth control and skin color, are sideshow distractions irrelevant to the ministry of Christ. We need a pope who can set the agenda, not be manipulated by it.

 And I hope the collective judgment of the cardinals reflects that fact.

 There is piecemeal evangelization today. One church builds a clinic here and another builds a school there, and some few send out missionaries to enhance their particular brand. But the entire army of Christian soldiers does not march onward as to war.

 It instead is consumed in dissipations and barracks arguments.

 Not that denominational differences are meaningless, or that there can be agreement on any more than a few core beliefs. But the aggregate social benefit of Christianity upon modern society – and especially American society – has come from a fractured, bickering Christianity. One denomination is pretty sure its neighboring denomination is going to hell, and vice versa.

 Ditto for all the world.

 Yet together, those denominations have established a Christian main that is good for the souls and societies of man. It is more good than bad, less darkness than light.

 And we need to reinvigorate that.

 We need to reignite the passion of zeal and the firmness of faith.
 We need a worldwide altar call that summons all to Christ.

 And the pope can be part of that.

 If the cardinals choose wisely.

 If they listen not to pundits and prognosticators, but to the quite whisper of inspiration.

 I am praying for the cardinals.

 I don’t share their religion, but I do share their faith.

 And a good pope would be a good thing.

 We need a warrior for Christ, and the cardinals have the ability to give us one.

 It’s not about the color of the smoke, it’s about the heart of the man.