Every time a Pope is sick, the secular world infallibly speaks about his successor within a political-mind framework. It has been like this for almost two thousand years. It is still the same during these times.
Pope John Paul II is sick. He is truly bigger than life. A great Vicar of Christ, a true Man of God, a real Pope for the Universal Church, a loving father to the whole of humanity.
While the whole catholic world prays for him, there are now some people here and there, who would rather speculate, rationalize and even pick his successor. While God has the Holy Father and the Church in his provident palm, there are certain sectors of society who presume to make predictions as to who should take his place and what would happen to the Church.
One thing is certain: the truth is someone succeeds Peter as Vicar of Christ. Strictly speaking therefore, no one really succeeds a Pope but rather succeeds in occupying the See of Peter.
The saying goes: “He who enters the conclave a pope, comes out thereof a cardinal.” This simply means when the conclave of cardinals gather to elect the successor of Peter, the cardinal popularly predicted to become pope leaves the conclave still a cardinal—not the Pope!
John Paul II was practically an unknown cardinal in the Church when he was made a people. He went to Rome for the conclave of cardinals with a return plane ticket to Poland. This ticket was not used. The rest is history.
It has been this way for as long as memory can recall. Christ founded the Church. Christ rules the Church. Christ provides for the Church. And Christ chooses the man who succeeds his Vicar—something he does not commit to any Tom, Dick and Harry.
These are the times that call for prayers for the Holy Father. There are never times in the Church when the Catholic Faithful in particular are asked to make polls, survey and the like as to who will be the pope. This is one of the most futile things they can do. The successor of Peter is the concern of Christ. It is none of our business. We cannot even manage our little country—much less the universal Church.
+O.V. Cruz, DD
1 March 2005