By Edmond Y. Azadian
With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, a moment of confusion reigned in the Roman Catholic Church, because the Papacy is a lifetime position and his resignation only had one precedent — a millennium ago.
But, soon jubilation returned with the election of a new pope, Francis I.
When Cardinal Aghajanian was alive, the conclave of Cardinals by-passed him, because at that time, only Italian members of the clergy were eligible to the throne of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. But, since his passing, a pope from Poland was elected, followed by one from Germany and now the latest one is from South America. This week, Pope Francis I will become the 266th pontiff occupying the Throne of St. Peter.
But why should the new pope’s election interest or excite the members of other churches, including the Armenian Apostolic Church?
To begin with, excitement and media hype are contagious. Second, the papacy has a political power extending far beyond the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. Although gone are the days when popes and cardinals in Europe had absolute power over individuals through the Inquisition courts; the Catholic clergy, very much like the Nazi and the Communist systems, controlled the thinking of individuals members and the accusation of heresy was a death knell for its victims.