Over at NewAdvent.org, I noticed an article entitled “The Beard that Lost this Cardinal the Papacy” regarding 15th-Century cardinal Basilios Bessarion, who purportedly would have been elected Pope in the 1455 conclave, if only he had agreed to the Conclave’s insistence that he remove his beard. The reason was that clerics with beards were (and are) associated with Eastern Orthodoxy, and Rome (to distinguish itself from the Orthodox) wrote into canon law that clerics are to be clean-shaven. Cardinal Bessarion demurred, and thus, never became Pope.
But this got me thinking: What if? What if it weren’t uncommon for clerics in the Roman Church to have beards? What if even our last few Popes had beards?
Note: this is just a “What if?”, OKAY? I love these guys. They are great. I’m not trying to offend, insult, demean, disrespect, or anything. First person who complains will ruin it for the rest of us because I’ll take the post down.
And, here’s a real one, a picture of the bishop of my diocese, Bishop Jaime Soto: