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The Pope Is An Instrument Of The Holy Spirit 

Interviewed by Walter Wilson Nana — Ahead of the election of a new Pope to lead an estimated 1.2 billion Catholic Christians across the globe, there is excitement and media hype about the event. As 117 Cardinals meet in a conclave in March, the Bishop of Buea Diocese, Immanuel Bushu, in this interview, says the election of a Pope is guided by the Holy Spirit.

News of the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation on February 10, 2013, sparked mixed reactions. How will you react to that?

Ordinarily there is nothing that bad. That is what obtains and has been obtaining for the past 700 years. Pope Benedict XVI wrote out his text in the Church’s language – Latin – and read it out himself, following Canon Law 332 Paragraph 2, which states that “In the case of a Pope stepping down, he should write that clearly and publish it, make it known officially”.

That is what he did. That’s why the whole world knows about it now. If there were doubts or anything for people to ask, there was chance for that. He is surprising people because our memories are short. We do not realise that that has happened in the Church a few times already.

How will react to reports from Western media that the Pope has been under pressure to resign following sex scandals in the Church?

Those allegations have always been there. They are true, but I think that they have been blown out of context. There are people who are out to say things against the church. When you examine most of the things said, they mean nothing. People are free to say what they want to say. The church does not fall for things like that. Novelty seems to be driving the media, which is not reality. There is a lot of that in the big Western media, but it shows that the church is not a small group. The church is powerful and anything that happens to it becomes a news item for the media.

Some Western media houses say some Cardinals in the US and Scotland, alleged to be involved in sexual abuse scandals, should not be part of the 117 Cardinals for the upcoming conclave. Can civil society pressure bear on these Cardinals not to be present at the conclave?

The mass media are overstepping their bounds. When they accuse you of some of these things, you will realise later that there is really nothing that has gone wrong. In your role as a spiritual leader for the spiritual and moral development of the people, you find it difficult to go on, even if it is found out that what the media said is not true. It could be something you have never thought of. Sometime the best way to go about it is to resign, even if you did it or not. Pressure cannot be put on church leaders from outside.

After Thursday, February 28, how are we going to refer to Pope Benedict XVI?

For long, we’ve never had a thing like that in the church. But the Cardinals and Bishops do resign or retire. According to Canon Law, he will be called Emeritus. Pope Emeritus will be the right title, unless a new title is coined for him.

Will he continue to wear the Papal Whites?

Yes, he will wear them. He is still Pope; just that he is not looking after the church officially. He will wear his regular attire as a Pope Emeritus, just as our Bishops and Cardinals Emeritus. When they retire, they retain the vestures they have had as servants of the church.

From Friday, March 1, 2013, what happens? How will activities in the Vatican go?

Those ones I do not know for sure now. The conclave will hold shortly after he retires. It may start early so that by mid March, we may have a new Pope. I am saying this by speculation. I don’t have all the facts yet. He leaves the Vatican, Thursday, February 28, and goes to the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo, in the west of the hills in the city of Rome overlooking St. Peter’s Basilica, for about two months before coming back to a monastery within the Vatican walls. That is where he will spend the rest of his time.

There are fears that some Cardinals may not make it to Rome for the conclave. If they don’t, what happens to the expected 117 number of Cardinals?

There will be no obstruction whatsoever. Those who come will do the job. It is not that all must be there 100 percent. If it is said that several Cardinals are sick, they will not keep the church waiting because it will not be known when they will come. Those who come will do the voting.

In the interim before election of a new Pope, the church will be run by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, very close to Pope Benedict XVI? Is he open for the election?

Yes, if he is not above 80. Normally, there is a Dean of College of Cardinals, who is the person with the highest age. That is what the present Pope was. He was the oldest at that time when he took over..

How should Christians manage the media frenzy in the build up of a new Pope?

The media is a great thing we have in the world today, but it should not control us. We shouldn’t listen too much to what the media is saying. They are searching for their news items. Listen to the radio, watch TV, read the papers but a good part of them are not useful.

Those are personal opinions that do not tally with the situation the church is going through. The Pope has told us that we should pray for him, pray for the person who is to be chosen. That is what happens all the time. That is all we need to worry about. It is prayers that really matters. We should not give ourselves to unnecessary rumour mongering and debating on things that are sometimes not very useful.

For the ordinary Christian, we keep calm, we pray for the outgoing Pope and for a new and powerful person, who will be able to handle the affairs of the church in the 21st century. We hold strongly that the Holy Spirit chooses. It is and will be the Holy Spirit that chooses. When the spirit is choosing, the human element is not always there. In the end, it is always the spirit that chooses.

What kind of a Pope are you looking forward to?

We’re always looking for a Pope who is Catholic in his life, the way he lives, in his teaching, in his direction of the church’s affairs. We look for that simply because he is an instrument in the hands of the Holy Spirit.

Each time a Pope is chosen, he is the right person for that moment, it doesn’t matter who he is. That person has just one key thing to do in the church, even though he has millions of others to do. He will be praying. God will give us again a great person to lead the flock in the Catholic Church as the others have done.

We’ve seen great people like Pope Paul VI; we have seen a giant like Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI who has been a heavy weight in the church too. He has been one of the greatest minds of the church as far as things of God are concerned. He is one of our leading theologians now. We hope that God will give us a leader who is as great as the recent Popes.

First published in The Post print edition no 01412

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