Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player





Understanding Scriptures

Readers Views

Activity news and much more

Free Subscription:

Subscribe Unsubscribe

 Blooming Stars

Papal Dynamics – 5

            The papacy of Pope Benedict XVI now is history. I trust in his words that he tried to love Christ and his Church with deep and total love. I also want to say that those of us who disagreed with him also love Christ and the Church with deep and total love. In fact without that love I cannot write what I am writing. A pope’s obedience needs to be to the discerned decisions of the Universal Church in a Council. He needs to be accountable to the will of Christ manifested in the Church through a Council. We need a balanced approach that is neither conservative nor liberal but progressive. The Church cannot be held hostage by any particular group or view point or the bureaucratic curia.

            It needs to interpret the signs of the times. I am not enthusiastic about this conclave in Rome to elect the new pipe as all the 115 cardinals, appointed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, are from a conservative mold. We need a pragmatic pope who listens to all, who discerns God’s will with all in a representative council, and who, above all, is a holy visionary, and inspires to live Christ’s teachings and not a particular ideology. We also need to demystify the conclave and the election of the pope in a process dating to medieval times. All the current procedures came in place due to particular exigencies of the times. The past procedures, if not useful, need to go.

            A Hindu sanyasi (ascetic) friend, who follows the teachings of Christ, asked me if the conclave is marked by inspiration or perspiration. He wanted to know if the conclave is guided by politics and human factors or by spiritual concerns directed by the Holy Spirit. I told him it is both. We are humans; God works through us; God knows the possible shortcomings inherent in human nature. The whole system whereby a pope is elected needs to be totally overhauled. Before 1059 in the Christian Era, the Bishop of Rome also known as the pope was chosen by the consensus of the clergy and laity of the diocese of Rome. There were popes who were also selected by powerful families or kings in Europe.

            Most popes were Italians. Before Pope John Paul II, Italians were popes continuously for 455 years. Out of the current 115 electors, 28 are Italians. Europe that has only 24% of the Catholic population has 60 cardinals, that is, 69% of electors. Since 1059 the sole body of electors of the pope became the College of Cardinals. Theoretically any believing male Catholic can become a pope. And there were laymen who became popes. Pope John XIX, for instance, was the first and only pope to succeed his older brother, and that too through bribery. He actually bought the election, and “his canonically illicit passage from lay status to papacy in a single day shocked and infuriated many of the Romans”.

            Since 1970 only cardinals under the age of 80 could elect the Pope. Pope Celestine III was eighty-five years of age when elected, and managed to serve almost seven years. A two-third majority of cardinals present is required for the election. Pope John Paul II changed the procedure, and required only a simple majority after the fourth ballot. Pope Benedict reverted to the previous procedure of two-third majority. This is a human-made system. Currently a pope appoints cardinals who in turn elect his successor at his death or resignation. This autocratic dictatorial system perpetuates itself. It cannot be justified by invoking divine approval. This system cannot be considered to be God’s will. God permits this system as God permits evil. This system as it is needs to go. A divinized system that truly represents 1.2 billion Catholics need to replace the outdated monarchical, autocratic system.


All rights reserved to East West Awakening. Designed and powered by