Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Newspapers Candid About Pope John Paul II

It's interesting that the MSM…at least the print MSM, has gotten it right about Pope John Paul II. Analysts in the NYT and WaPo say the late pope was authoritarian and rigid and the next pope will do well to appease the growing numbers of liberal Catholics. It's the TV coverage that has been drowning in sentimental, mawkish goo. There are a billion Roman Catholics in the world. A world that bears little resemblance to the one that Karol Wojtyla of Poland inherited when he became Pope John Paul II in 1978. Under the leadership of the late pope, the Catholic Church has become as out-of-touch with its parishioners throughout the world as the Republican party in the US has become out of touch with its constituents. The election of the new pope will reveal whether the Vatican intends for the church to minister to its congregations as a vibrant religious organization of the twenty-first century, or will continue its backtrack to the Middle Ages. It is required that the College of Cardinals meet within 15 days (not longer than 20 days) after a pope dies to elect a new pope. A Cardinal can't be over 80 to get into this elite group. On the day that John Paul II died there were 117 Cardinals under 80 and 66 Cardinals over 80 representing every corner of the world. John Paul II made a few changes in the election rules in the Apostolic Constitution. A significant change makes it impossible for this conclave to be endlessly long as they have been in the past. The new rule states that if a two-thirds majority has elected no one during the first 12 days of the conclave, then the cardinals may elect a pope by a simple majority. At this point in the proceedings, all but the two cardinals receiving the most votes can be eliminated from the roster. There is one Cardinal who was appointed by John Paul II “in pectore” (literally, in the breast). It was a secret appointment and was not revealed before the Pope died. Historically, this secret appointment is made when an open appointment might cause a problem to the appointee--such as, someone who lives in a troubled part of the world. If the in pectore appointment is revealed before a Pope dies, the appointee joins the rest of those who were named Cardinal. If the Pope dies before the name is revealed, the honor passes from the appointee As it turns out, the Vatican is even more secretive, paranoid and cloak-and-dagger than the fascists in the White House. The College of Cardinals will be in a locked room until they elect a new pope. Small wonder murder has been resorted to in the past to correct mistakes made by a group of desperate men in a locked room. Until a man from Poland was elected pope, it was unthinkable the pope not be Italian. Now, one of the front-runners on the short list is a black Cardinal from Nigeria. It remains to be seen if the College of Cardinals will ignore the discontented rumblings of a billion Catholics who want to see reforms in the church. If this conclave elects another rigid conservative who continues to oversee the return of the Catholic Church to Medieval repression, then Catholicism will finally collapse under its own weight and become totally irrelevant in today's world.

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