I posted this on Facebook, and I think it bears re-posting here:

Today is a day... to pray. Whether Catholic or Orthodox, Latin or Eastern Rite, weak in faith or strong in love for God, despairing of the Church and its prelates or inspired by all God achieves through the successors of the Apostles, today begins the process of electing a frail, weak, sinful man to take up the post of vicar of Peter, and directly lead more than half of the world's Christian people, a number greater than all Muslims put together. He will have a direct affect upon unity between Orthodox and Catholics, perhaps more than any other person, at a time when quite possibly reconciliation might be possible. He will be the voice of Christ to an at times hostile and increasingly secular world beyond the Church, for better or worse. We all, Catholic or Orthodox, need a good pope and now is the time to pray for one. Sancta Maria, Mater Ecclessiae, or pro nobis.

Someone posted a reposte to this, decrying the qualities of the cardinal electors, and indeed of the whole process. He went on to say " The last few Roman Pontiffs have not been up to the job: hence the catastrophic decline in the European church. I doubt that the next will be the great saint that is needed if the Church is to be turned round." 

This is my response:

a lack of faith and hope is a sad and Spiritless thing... let us not despair, and leave behind our Eurocentric spectacles and see the vitality of the Spirit of God who brings in a rich harvest, be it in Latin America, Asia or Africa. The humbling of a hubristic West is a troubling thing, a humbling that came to the Orthodox east at the end of the Middle Ages. It can be the beginning of a deeper renewal and a rediscovery of the heart of the Gospel. However, the Catholic Church is truly more than European, and while the European church is purged it is flourishing elsewhere. 

The popes of the past century have been on the whole great men; while of their time and culture, nevertheless laying the ground for the renewal of the Church around the world; bringing Churches of east and west closer than for 500 years; dramatically challenging and in the end overcoming the oppression of atheistic Communism which has provided the opportunity for the beautiful renewal of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Armenian and Georgian Churches; bringing together the youth of the world in numbers never before experienced and in ways which have profoundly inspired many young people with a love for God; providing more health care and education than any other institution on earth and across every Continent; speaking up for the marginalised and poor and a lone voice with authority to challenge the excesses of unbridled capitalism.Yes there have been many troubling things, and it is easy to forget that pope's are in fact human but bearing a great office. There has, at times, been great evil and missed opportunities, but on the scale of things these are passing and not of the substance of the Church and its life which continues to grow and flourish. 
Let us have faith in the Church Christ has founded, let us have hope in the Spirit promised to the Church of God, and let us look to the Face of Christ who suffers in and through His Church, broken, weak and injured as it once was on the Cross and continues to be so throughout all times

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