“We’re still waiting for the white smoke”, one member of the Swedish delegation laconically remarked to me one late evening some time ago, as we were waiting for a meeting of the European Union’s Agriculture ministers to conclude. The same can be said about the current Belgian crisis right now, for we are all as much awaiting any sign that the conclave has reached a decision in its meetings behind firmly shut doors as those who gather outside the Vatican whenever it is time to elect a new Pope.
The difference is that right now, you could certainly speak about there being two parallel conclaves in Belgium; one currently lying fallow as it awaits the outcome of the other set up by the king. The latter will see its sovereign today, but there is little to indicate that it will have reached any progress. As has happened before, there have been signals that there might be a government in place before the turn of the year, but as I indicated, that is something we have heard before, and we have to see it to believe it.
Meanwhile, the clock ticks on, and it is tempting to start advocating a similar solution as when the Catholic world had been without a Pope for three years; then, the inhabitants of Viterbo, where the conclave was held, locked the cardinals in, served them nothing but bread and water, and took the roof away from over their heads. That resulted in the election of Gregory X in 1271, as well as the decision to keep the cardinals locked in during every papal conclave ever since.
But as for now, the only one locked in is me, for my kids have a day off from school today and my wife came down with the flu this morning, so I am trying to work while keeping things together here at the same time. Hopefully it will be a little different by tomorrow so I can go se what the Brussels meeting of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was all about.
Or at least find time to have a shower.