There is nothing new in such a state of affairs of course: several popes of the tenth century and at the time of the Renaissance are well known to have been vile sinners. Fractured and dysfunctional government of the Church (think Avignon for example) has perhaps more often been the rule than otherwise.
But this is the twenty-first century, and such things cannot readily be hidden from the eyes of the world.
God doesn't choose the Pope, men do!
Surely the most important question we face at the moment is whether the current group of Cardinal-electors are capable of electing the person needed to do the job.
We pray very hard, of course, for them to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in this.
But God operates through men in his governance of the Church, and he leaves men free will.
The consequence of this is that men can refuse to listen.
Or their hearts can be so hardened by sin that the Spirit ceases to even try to influence them.
It is true of course that God will protect his Church so that the gates of hell will not prevail against it - he will ensure that a pope will not define heresy as doctrine, and will protect the Church from falling completely. In a worst case scenario, God will of course so arrange things to bring good out of evil.
But that doesn't mean that the best person for the job - or even a good person for the job - is guaranteed of election. Indeed, history provides many counter-examples!
Can the current Cardinals elect the right man?
All of this makes the question marks that have arisen over a number of the Cardinal-electors in recent days all the more pertinent.
First we have the prospect of a number of Cardinals who protected priests from prosecution, failed to take action against those with credible accusations against them, and ensured they continued to abuse children brazenly fronting up to participate in the Conclave, even trumpeting the fact to the world.
The most publicised of these cases is surely Cardinal Mahony, removed from his remaining public duties in his diocese but a few weeks ago yet defiantly unrepentant.
But he is not alone. There are big question marks about New York's Cardinal Dolan (even being touted as papabile in the media), currently giving depositions behind closed doors over cases in his former diocese; Cardinal Sean Brady of Ireland; Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium (who had computer files seized at his home in 2010 over suspicions that he helped cover up hundreds of abuse cases); and Cardinal Justin Rigali (retired archbishop of Philadelphia).
Secondly there is the problem of the factionalism, sodomy and corruption that is allegedly rife in the Curia. Over a third of the Cardinal electors are current or former Curia officials. In that light the all too credible reports of a gay mafia operating within the Vatican, and the terrible factionalism and corruption exposed in the Vikileaks scandal should be of especial concern to us.
Frankly it is ridiculous that the Curia should be dominated by Italians, and that Italian should be the primary language of the Vatican. The continuing dominance of Italians in the Vatican almost guarantees problems of the type we are seeing. The reality is that the Pope may be bishop of Rome, but he doesn't actually technically live in Italy, and there is a reason for that: he governs the world, not just his diocese. Time for a thorough clean out and rethink on this.
Thirdly there is the problem of the orthodoxy or otherwise of the assorted Cardinal-electors. The efforts of some to publicly undermine Church doctrines and traditions in the lead up to the election shows just how grave a problem this is. In Germany, the Bishops Conference has reportedly approved the use of the 'morning after pill' in its hospitals. In Scotland, Cardinal O'Brien has apparently touted not just the prospect of allowing married men to become priests, but of allowing priests to marry (something that has never been permitted as a general principle in either East or West).
Fourthly there is the problem of the composition of the electors, which reflects neither the city of Rome itself (in fact neither the people or priests of Rome get a say at all in the election of their bishop), nor of the Church as a whole. Over half the Cardinal-electors are from Europe, which makes up only a quarter of the Church in overall numbers. And it is even more of an anachronism that 28 of the Cardinal-electors are from Italy, who make up a minuscule proportion of the world's Catholics, followed by the next largest group of 11 from the US. Meanwhile the rapidly growing churches of Africa and Asia are drastically under-represented.
Finally, there is the generational problem. I'm all for the wisdom of age as a general principle, but the average age of 72 of the electors means virtually all of them lived through that era of brainwashing and bullying by those imbued by the 'spirit of Vatican II' that saw a mass exodus from the Church of priests, religious and laypeople. Few people of that generation seem to be able to take an objective view of what happened, and see things as they really are (the term brainwashed springs to mind).
Time for a rethink on how we elect Popes I think!
Let us hope that the new Pope will be a radical reformer from within: a man who will clear out the Italian dominated Curia and will instead insist on appointments being made on the basis of genuine administrative and spiritual merit; will insist that all those tainted by mishandling of the abuse crisis resign their positions and retire to a life of penance, or else be degraded; and that all those who hold positions of authority in the Church uphold its teachings and traditions.