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Last Update: 5/5/2013 6:37 PM
3/13/2013 5:14 PM
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Registered in: 11/23/2005
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Keeping Watch over the Vatican

I am glad to know that Papa is keeping a close watch on the election proceedings, according to Georg Ganswein (as quoted by Fr. Lombardi at this morning's press conference). It is comforting to know that Papa hasn't just withdrawn completely. I'm sure he is somewhat worried that the cardinals might mess up and pick somebody who will undo some of the advances he made as pope.

I keep having this bizarre feeling that Cardinal O'Malley from Boston is going to be elected. I know, I know, that's crazy and I'm not sure if that would be good or bad but he caught my attention several years ago because of his Franciscan robes and sandals and actions handling Boston's horrible sex abuse mess. I was surprised to see recently that he has become somewhat popular in Rome. My priest son insists that it is because he resembles Padre Pio a bit and Italians are crazy about Padre Pio. However, I think it goes deeper than that.

I think that Catholics are so fed up with the sex abuse scandal and mismanagement in the Vatican government that they would like to see more humility and simplicity in the Church. When they see Cardinal O'Malley walking around in his Franciscan robes and hear that he sold the Boston archbishop's residence to help pay for sex abuse penalties, they think he is what they need.

Then yesterday I read this little article from Catholic News Service. I really don't think a person's face alone would sway votes on such an important decision but it is an interesting theory.

The eyes (and ears, and beard) have it

Posted on March 12, 2013 by Patricia Zapor

Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley has the inside track to be elected pope, according to the preliminary analysis of how people reacted to the faces of likely candidates among the cardinals. Yep, their faces alone.

A pair of psychology associate professors from the College of William & Mary in Virginia — Peter M. Vishton and Jennifer A. Stevens — pulled together what was cautiously labeled “Brief technical report — working document — draft” of how study participants reacted to photos of 20 likely contenders for the papacy. They concluded that Cardinal O’Malley will be the next pope.

The cautiously worded preliminary report analyzed the reactions to the photos by 557 participants, who were recruited via something called Amazon Mechanical Turk and paid 20 cents for their participation. Curiously, the participants hardly reflect the demographics of the cardinal electors.

“137 self-identified as Christian; 237 self-identified as Hindu; 169 of the participants self-identified as being from North America; 337 self-identified as being from Asia.”

The unusual approach is based on the principle that although the electors will consider a wide range of skills, personal characteristics, qualifications and geopolitical angles, they also will be influenced by the facial features of the candidates.

“This study explores the prediction that the unconscious assessment of face appearance will strongly, unconsciously affect their selection.”

The report said one reason they chose to study the papal election is that the electors constitute a closed group of highly educated, experienced, senior leaders. If their prediction turns out to be accurate, the pair said:

“It would suggest that the power of a face to drive decisions is truly powerful.”

[Edited by benefan 3/13/2013 5:16 PM]
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