Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Fear not the death of popes

Should our papa die, or become incapacitated in some way, the Church will go on. Fears about decaying faculties in a pope betray a lack of understanding of what the Church is. Don't think of the Church as parallel to some secular state. The Vatican has no nukes, no weapons of mass destruction for a crazed or senile pontiff to launch. The deposit of faith is not going to be endangered if the pope dies or becomes incompetent, since it was not he who deposited it, but Christ. Don't even worry about the next conclave. The media will attempt, should this happen, to analyze the situation in the typical "left vs. right" political template, pushing some candidates and rejecting others, all the while never understanding the reality of what the Church is, the mystical body of Christ. There is no left or right: One is either with Christ, or against him.

Remember, the faith doesn't depend on the pope, since he isn't the head of the Church. Jesus is the head of the Church, the pope is just his vicar, a shepherd whose job it is to serve the servants of God. We've been fortunate to have John Paul, but even if we had a lousy, small man as pope, God would still guard his Church.

Popes and bishops aren't political leaders, revolutionaries, or even presidents, but rather are shepherds, preserving what is entrusted to them. The day to day economy of the Church has little to do with them. The sacramental life will go on.

Nevertheless, prayers would be a good thing.

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