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Monday, February 25, 2013

Roman Catholic Cardinals and Selecting St. Peter's Successor in the 21st Century Church

It's an awesome responsibility to select the successor of St. Peter the Apostle in Rome, the man who will next lead the world's Roman Catholics, as our Pope.  Some Cardinals of the church only participate once in their lifetime to select one of their own to lead the world's Roman Catholics. But, the last time the largely same group of Cardinals met in conclave, about 8 years ago, they didn't have much of a challenge.  Cardinal Ratzinger was obviously prepared and ready to step into the position as Pope Benedict VXI, so there really wasn't much point in challenging him.  If another Cardinal were selected, other than Cardinal Ratzinger, the new guy would just have to  put  up with the respected leader of the  important Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, anyway, so might just as well make him the boss, so to speak. 

Pope Benedict is a visually appealing Pope.  He looks the part and, no doubt, he's a very devout man.  Nevertheless, he seemed to come up short on the humility scale, or, at least, that's how I saw him, until he decided to resign.  His nearly unprecedented resignation in the Church's 2,000 year history indicates a man keenly aware of his mortality and shows me a passion to live up to the life of prayer and meditation he seems to thrive upon.  Perhaps, by resigning, he could turn out to be the very best, or most sensible, Pope, in the history of Roman Catholicism, depending, on what happens next.

If Pope Benedict's resignation leads to a popularity contest among the Cardinals for his successor, then his bold act of humility will have been in vain. People will justifiably say, "he shouldn't have done it".

Therefore, this is an opportunity for the Cardinals to finally exert unified change within the Church and elect someone who will lead, unite, evangelize and teach us how to be better Christians. 

But most of all, Roman Catholics need a Pope who will allow for the ordination of more priests.

It's essential for the Cardinals to elect a Pope who will make his number one priority for all Catholics to have more priests to minister to us.  Rather than protect the tradition of celebrate clergy (we're finding more evidence they haven't been so celebrate, anyway) and keeping the religious women of the world away from even becoming ordained deacons, the Church is preventing Roman Catholics from evangelizing, even among our faithful selves.  We need priests! There's absolutely and virtually no reason for this shortage except for the obstinate Roman Catholic hierarchy who, for no good reason, is obstructing the ordinations of more married clergy and, at the very least, women deacons.

There are precedents for both of these in Church history.  First of all, there's been a centuries old debate about whether or not St. Peter was married.  It's really hard to believe he was a single man, so unusual for his time.  Additionally, St. Mary Magdelene was as  much of an apostle as the rest of the men selected by Jesus to spread his faith around the world.   

Moreover, in the Eastern Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, priests have married and supported families for centuries!  

All the Cardinals must put their egos aside and look the future for what the church needs.  

Selecting Pope Benedict's successor is the most challenging process the Catholic Cardinals will ever be engaged in.  Of course, most of them have practice and experience, because many were together 8 years ago, to elect Cardinal Ratzinger. This time, the Cardinals must get the right man, for the right time, for the right job. Our access to the Sacraments depends on their humility in finding a highly moral man, who will rise above tradition, and bring the clergy we desperately need to our patiently waiting faithful.

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