The advanced age (78 this month) and failing health of Pope Paul VI - Supreme Pontiff of the 650 million-member Roman Catholic Church – have prompted widespread speculation in Catholic circles about the coming papal succession. Vatican specialists acknowledge that the next pope-electing conclave will be the most important and encounter perhaps the most difficulty of any conclave in the last 400 years. Its decision will affect both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Pope Paul - now in his 13th year as pontiff - is said to be suffering from arthritis, pernicious anemia, and possibly eyen leukemia, though no one outside his closest circle knows the exact state of his health. Rumors of his possible resignation persist, though some observers feel he would not step down unless completely incapacitated. The only pontiff in history to voluntarily resign was Pope Celestine V in 1294.
Please click the above PDF icon(s) to view or download the full Magazine Article in PDF format.