Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Cardinals Meet to Prepare for Papal Vote

VATICAN CITY - The College of Cardinals met Tuesday for a second day to prepare for the election of Pope John Paul II's successor, which will be announced by a ringing of bells in addition to the centuries-old practice of sending up puffs of white smoke.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the cardinals hadn't yet decided on a date for the conclave, which according to church law must occur between 15 and 20 days after the death of a pope.

Navarro-Valls said 91 of the 183 cardinals were in Rome as of Tuesday. Only 117 of them — those under the age of 80 — can vote in a conclave.

Brazilian Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia, told Italian state radio Tuesday that he thought a new pope would be chosen quickly.

The next pope is likely to follow John Paul's conservative bent closely — the late pontiff appointed all but three of the 117 cardinals entitled to vote. John Paul opposed divorce, birth control and abortion, the ordination of women and the lifting of the celibacy requirement for priests, issues that sharply divided the church.

Note the issues which "sharply divide the Church" - all but one are doctrinal matters for which there is no room for dissension. This issue of celibacy, being a disciplinary matter, could - in theory - be changed. However, one must ask why one would wish to reject a great charism - the great gift of celibacy. It is a unique and precious gift from God - what ingratitude would be shown if it were to be rejected? What other of God's gifts, then, would we be willing to reject?

Secondly, those who reject the irreformable teachings of the Church in the other matters cannot, properly speaking, claim to be Catholic. They hold positions which are opposed to the teachings of the Church - they hold positions which are, simply put, heretical. One who holds an heretical position should be viewed as an heretic. They are more than 'dissenters'. Those who openly and defiantly promote their contrary 'opinions' in matters of faith and morals, should be publicly excommunicated - after having been adequately warned and admonished to repent. Failure to dispense the healing medicine of the Church allows further rot, disease, and corruption to occur within the Church. The unwary become afflicted - and souls could be lost.

Although it is to be understood that in recent times we are more likely to label the act or position of a person rather than the person himself, it seems disingenuous to refrain from acknowledging that the person who holds an heretical position is a heretic, at least, materially. Do we not call a person who steals, a thief? Or do we say that 'the man engages in thievery'. Do we call a murderer - a murderer - or do we call him a 'man who commits murder'? Does not St. Paul note that those who are engaged in fornication are "fornicators"? Does he not refer to individuals by their deeds - the idolators, the adulterers, the effeminate, the liers, the thieves, the covetous, the drunkards, the railers, the extortioners...(1 Cor 5)?

Are we not doing ourselves a great disservice by refusing to refer to certain individuals as to what they really are? Does Jesus, Himself, refer to some as "hypocrites"?

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