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USA    THEOLOGIAN URGES STRATEGY TO DEAL WITH PAPAL INCAPACITY
A US theologian has highlighted a 'serious vacuum' in canon law that leaves the Church unprepared if the Pope ever becomes incapable of exercising his authority.
    Writing in the Jesuits' America magazine, Fr James H. Provost of Catholic University said the Church needs the equivalent of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, specifying what to do if the Pope is disabled.
    The lack of rules is "a rather serious vacuum" in church law, according to Fr Provost. He said that, by definition, a pope suffering a severe stroke or mental illness cannot simply step down, because canon law specifies a person must be of sound mind to resign a church office.
    Some think the Holy Spirit wouldn't allow such a crisis, Provost wrote, but the mental illness of Pope Urban VI (1378-89) forced cardinals to elect a second pope, causing the disastrous Western Schism.
   
Chicago Tribune
26 Sep 00



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