With the Pope now incapacitated the big question for the world’s one billion Catholics is who provides guidance for the church?
Supreme power is concentrated in the Pope’s hands, and even after death, until a successor is chosen, no-one else can fill his shoes. This means no rulings on dogma, doctrine, faith, or morals can be made, or bishops be ordained.
The Vatican’s army of beaurocrats can keep the machinery turning, but without an active Pope there is a vacuum. Some are wondering if he should resign.
German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger could replace him says Vatican watcher Wilton Wynn;
“Cardinal Ratzinger is one of the most important men in the Vatican right now, he’s the watchdog of the faith. I think he’s the man making sure the Pope doesn’t give away the store”
Another possible successor is Cardinal Angelo Sodano, an Italian, who is the Vatican’s foreign minister responsible for the papal state’s embassies around the world;
“Sodano, the secretary of state, has run the machinery of the Vatican for many years and has built up tremendous prestige all over the world wherever the church is present”, added Wynn.
Medical advances have made the problem more pressing for the Vatican. In the past, Popes ailed and died, and were replaced. Now they can be kept alive, prolonging the loss of the leader, and the last papal abdication was nearly 600 years ago.