The Pope and the Papacy: Questions and Answers

In the aftermath of Pope John Paul II's death, Beliefnet responds to readers' questions about the leader of the Catholic Church.

BY: Charlotte Allen


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How did the pope know he was passing on to go home to his Father?

He didn't know--because no one does. He simply had faith and hope that the Father would welcome him into heaven.

I know some Catholic women in the U.S., would like the ordination of women priests. Is this likely to happen?

The Catholic Church is highly unlikely to alter the rule banning women from priestly ordination.

How do I become a Catholic? I believe in Jesus, have been saved, and I was confirmed an Anglican.

I suggest contacting a Catholic priest. If you know a priest, he will undoubtedly be delighted to help you, but if even if you don't, just call a nearby Catholic parish office. As an Anglican, you don't have to be rebaptized in order to enter the Catholic Church, but you do have to undergo a formal rite of reception into the church. In most places, these rites take place at the Easter Vigil service. For literature about Catholicism, I suggest visiting a Catholic bookstore (the Daughters of St. Paul operate excellent stores, and so does Opus Dei). I recommend reading Marcellino D'Ambrosio's "Exploring the Catholic Church: An Introduction to Catholic Teaching and Practice."

Does the Catholic Church believe in the Holy Spirit? Did Pope John Paul II ever preach about the Holy Spirit?

Yes, the Catholic Church definitely believes in the Holy Spirit as co-equal with God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. Catholics celebrate the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, giving birth to the church. In 1986 John Paul II wrote an encylical, "Dominum et Vivificantem," celebrating the life of the Holy Spirit in the church.

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