Unable to continue services for the Catholic Church, Britain’s top Cardinal Keith O’Brien has voluntarily resigned. Conservative Bishop Philip Tartaglia will be a temporary replacement for the position of Britain’s senior Catholic official.
Tartaglia, O’Brien’s replacement, has been known to be severely against same-sex relations as he stressed “the foolishness of the government’s proposal to re-define marriage to accommodate same-sex unions” in his pastoral letter defending marriage through Catholic ideals.
Tartaglia holds the most traditional beliefs regarding the purpose for marriage and pro-creation; in essence he urges to keep marital, heterosexual intercourse as the only means of sanctifying sex. He believes “it is therefore wrong and foolish to undermine this understanding of marriage.”
Before Pope Benedict XVI, the last pope to resign occurred nearly 600 years ago in 1415.
On February 11, 2013, Benedict released his official voluntary resignation. For many this is an opportunity to bet on who the new face of the papacy will be.
“There is a long history of betting on the pope,” James Martin, a New York Jesuit priest, told USA Today. He goes on to admit “unofficial betting has probably been going on since as long as there were conclaves.”
However, for millions of Catholics this is a period of strange transition. As news arrived of Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s scandal from Italian news sources, Benedict soon decided it was time for his retirement.
During his last public appearance, the Pope told his followers that he “felt that my powers were diminished. And I asked the Lord insistently, in prayer, to illuminate me with his light to make me take the right decision not for my good but for the good of the church.”
He warns his successor that he “no longer has any privacy. He belongs forever and totally to everyone, to all the church.”
Pope Benedict revealed his inner turmoil by emoting to tens of thousands of people before him. He said there were “moments of joy and light but also moments that were not easy” as it appeared “the Lord seemed to be sleeping.”
Recently, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster announced that Masses at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, in London, organized for people with same-sex attraction, are to be shut down.
Regular protocol incites Cardinals to wait 2-3 weeks after the position becomes opened, which usually meant the death of the former pope. The Pope’s resignation certainly came as a surprise.
Cardinals have jumped at the opportunity to bend papal convention for they hope to select a pope in time for Easter Sunday, which falls on March 31. After rushing the process, Cardinals vote on paper ballots to select the new pontiff. The dean of Sacred College of Cardinals brings all Cardinals, running dioceses worldwide, under the age of 80, together at The Vatican for the election process. After the doors are shut no one is authorized to leave the conclave.
Cardinals are forbidden to speak with anyone outside the private meeting of the conclave. Pope John Paul II banned any recording devices to be present in 1996. Special technicians routinely inspect the Sistine Chapel before the election. A Cardinal must win two-thirds of the votes. If the masses outside in St. Peter’s Square see white smoke arise from the sacred chimney a new pope has been selected.
There are an estimated 1.2 billion followers of the Catholic faith worldwide.
There have been a series of scandals in the press concerning Britain’s chief cardinal Keith O’Brien and Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony.
While investigating the two cases there is a distinct difference in what is being charged of the two cardinals. Mahony was forced to step down as LA Archbishop, yet he is still invited to travel to the Vatican in order to select the next pope even after an LA court judge ordered thousands of pages to be released proving Mahony of sexually abusing young, altar boys and attempting to cover up his crimes by interfering with police investigations.
O’Brien will not be able to attend the election because he has resigned from his post. The accusations surrounding O’Brien are vastly different from that of Mahony’s. He is denounced for being involved with inappropriate relations with adult priests, 18 and over, since the 1980s.
Italian newspapers presented four cases directly connected to O’Brien. Priests accuse him of undesired attention, inappropriate drinking sessions, and questionable physical contact.
“It is a free world,” speaks O’Brien, “many priests have found it difficult to cope with celibacy and felt the need of a companion.”
Dr. Carmichael Peters, Director of the Honors Department and Professor of Religious Studies at Chapman University suggests that “the Catholic church is not as monolithic as it may seem.”
“In reality there are differences between the people in the hierarchy and some people in the pews. The pope is infallible when speaking ex cathedra. Homosexuality, along with contraception and abortion, are acts that frustrate the divine will. They are therefore perversions in the eyes of the Catholic church,” Peters told 429Magazine.
“The church typically views homosexuality as a choice while most LGBT people believe their orientation is not a choice. In response the Catholic church would say that even if it were granted that sexual orientation is not a choice, acting on that orientation is a choice,” added Peters.
He continued to say, “celibacy would be the moral thing to do” according to the Catholic tradition.