Friday, April 01, 2005


It looks like Pope John Paul II is not long for this world.

Now, I would never wish Terri Schiavo’s ordeal on anyone. But given that the Vatican weighed in on the side of reinserting Schiavo’s feeding tube, I can’t help but ponder this hypothetical: What would Catholic officials do if the Pope fell into a perpetual vegetative state and stayed that way for 15 years? Would the Catholic Church simply go without a Pope indefinitely? Or would they find a way to hasten – or more accurately, cease to delay – his passage from the mortal coil?


MLS said...

In the wake of Schiavo, the Pope (or more accurately, a Vatican spokesperson) said that the Pope has a living will that calls for life support to the end.

However, if he goes into a PVS, I don't think that the world goes Popeless. A Pope can retire, after all, so one isn't Pope until death. I presume that if he were unable to perform his duties, the Church would name a new Pope.

But then again, I'm a Jew, so what do I know?

JB said...

Well, of course the first point would still be that if the Pope entered into a PVS, there would still be a Pope. His ability to carry out what it is that the pope does would certainly be limited, but there would be little doubt that there's still a Pope.

Which brings me to my next point, regardless of one's faith I reckon very few would have the willingness to "cease to delay" the Pope's passage. Just call it a hunch, especially not the Cardinals.

Shane said...

This happened to the Mormon church in the 90s. Their prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, who was Agriculture Secretary under Eisenhower, was too sick to perform his duties for several years.

The church leadership just pretended Benson was still in charge and went on with business as usual.