Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Analysis: The Excommunication and the Guillotine

English
© ANSA

(By Giovanna Chirri)

Vatican City, February 22 - The highest
concentration of excommunications in all of canonical law are
reserved for the "princes of of the Church" - the cardinals -
and regard the election of the pope. There is, among others, the
"latae sententia" or automatic ex-communication for cardinals
who show behavior like "simony" - profiting from or selling
sacred preferments - or "pacts, agreements, promises" to "give
or deny" the vote. There is a "prohibition", when the pope is
alive, for cardinals to "promise to vote or take decisions in
private gatherings". There is a series of norms against possible
interferences between worldly behavior or interests and the
choice of Saint Peter's successor, the Vicar of Christ on earth.
The Church, made of men, protects the validity of the papal
election from human defects.
"Any irregular conduct" committed by the cardinals "is
irrelevant for the purposes of the elective acts," underlines
the canonist Monsignor Juan Arrieta. And this "rigidity should
be understood with a sense of historical perspective, of the
many experiences and many risks that one wants to avoid" in the
election of a pope, comments Arrieta.
Wielding paragraphs as if they were a fencer's foil the
canonist demolishes - without citing - any requests made by
groups of worshippers that Cardinal Roger Mahony, accused of
having covered up pedophile priests, be denied entry into the
conclave - a request that sparked the media hunt after various
cases of cardinal unworthiness, which could, perhaps, thin the
number of voters more than illness or impediments.
While Benedict XVI is in prayer, the curia machine runs for
normal administration, publishing among other things a series of
appointments, among which stands out the nuncio in Colombia,
Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, until now the deputy foreign
minister.
They are "appointments decided some time ago" given that
the nuncio, among other things, requires the consent of the
country in question, comments Vatican Spokesman Father Federico
Lombardi, to one asking his guidance.
Articles in these days in fact are calling Balestrero and
other clergy into question for misdeeds reported to the pope by
the three-cardinal commission that investigated Vatileaks.
Among the excommunications and prohibitions, the Church law
also contains the pope's "prayer" to "whom will be elected" to
"not withdraw himself from the office, to which he is called,
for fear of its weight". "In conferring to him the heavy task"
God "gives him also the help to carry them out and, in giving to
him the dignity, he gives him the power so that he will not
falter under the weight of his office".
The constitution is the "Universi Dominici Gregis" (UDG) of
1996, signed by John Paul II. Benedict XVI, modifying it in 2007
for the section on ballots, did not touch this prayer by the
Polish pope for his successor, whom he did not know.
In the first meeting with his countrymen a few days after
election, Joseph Ratzinger spoke of a "guillotine" that had
fallen on his head in the Sistine chapel. His consent to
election - one understands even more after his renouncing the
papacy - was for the good of the Church. Certainly the "weight
of the office" of which the UDG speaks must have truly consumed
his physical and spiritual stamina, as he explained upon
announcing his resignation.

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