I’m fascinated by the possibility that the degeneration of Pope John Paul II’s health will put the Catholic religion in a bizarre position.
If I’m not mistaken, the facts lay out like so:
The only person who can declare the Pope unfit to continue in his office is the Pope.
The only person who has authority in the Catholic Church over the Pope is, well, God.
Church officials, along with the rest of the world, are becoming increasingly concerned about the state of the Pope’s health. Despite his obvious resilience, his case of Parkinsons’ disease is continuing to worsen, and though by all reports his mental faculties remain unimpaired, his physical condition is not good.
According to medline, a service of the National Institute of Health, some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include anxiety, confusion, depression, and dementia.
Thus, we have a massive global religion in a position where its leader, who is recognized to be, on occasion, infallible, may become irrational. He cannot be deposed by current canonic law, he can only decide to retire, and he’s stated the he considers his position a calling from God, and will only retire if God tells him to.
What if the Pope starts making proclamations that make no sense whatsoever? What if he starts making declarations that are dangerous to peoples’ lives? What if he does so under the onus of papal infallibilty?
I’m fascinated by the ramifications this has for the Catholic Church.