I can not help comparing what’s happening in the Catholic Church today, as the Cardinals gather in Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope, with Canadian politics.  Here is how my scattered brain sees two situations: a totally unprofessional view.

Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Stephen Harper knows he has to change bureaucracy, hopefully judiciary as well, if he wants to effect a fundamental change of Canada radically towards the direction of libertarian conservatism.  He must secretly admire the Catholic Church.  When the first Pope John Paul died after only a week on the St. Peter’s throne, Le Monde commented, “Popes come and go, but Curia stays.”  Nothing will change until the Vatican administration called Curia changes.  Mr. Harper knows that he has to paint whole Ottawa Curia blue.  (In Canada, the colour of the Liberal Party is red, Conservative blue, and Socialist New Democratic Party orange.)

When Bev Oda, Minister in charge of foreign aid, changed the content of  a letter to KAIROS (the ecumenical coalition for international and social justice) with an addition of the hand-written script “not”, the whole CIDA civil servants’ weeks of work was thrown out of window.  It changed the message of the letter entirely.  The civil service lost a small battle.  War continues: death by a thousand little cuts.  When Pope John XXIII convene the Second Vatical Council to change the church in tune with time, Curia must have been dismayed.  When John Paul II and Benedict slowed down the transformation, Curia could not have been unhappy.  The job of bureaucracy is to keep things unchanged.  And there is no other conservative institution firmly entrenched and long lasting in the world as Vatican is: Mr. Harper’s dream.

But remember this: Mrs. Thatcher and Mr. Reagan started a free market revolution during the eighties with a massive deregulations in the United States and the United Kingdom.  In Canada however, both Progressive Conservatives and Liberals kept regulations for the banking sector intact thus avoided the 2008 world-wide catastrophic economic melt-down.  Thanks a little to the former Liberal Prime Minister, Paul Martin, but the main credit should go to the Ottawa Curia.

People are saying that the Roman Catholic Church will not change much because the next Pope will be elected by many Cardinals who were appointed by John Paul II and Benedict.  Progressive Catholics wishing for a change probably are in for a disappointment.  However, in Ottawa letting a bunch of 30-something running things at the Prime Minister’s Office has its risks too.  The whole Harper revolution could fail by a thousand little missteps: sometimes a giant one like Tom Flanagan.  Meanwhile Ottawa Curia knows history and nuance of language, ignore it at own risk.

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