Patriarch Simon XVI

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Patriarch
Simon XVI
Archbishop of Sanctus
Patriarch Simon XVI
Papacy began15 March 2003
Papacy ended11 July 2018
PredecessorPaul XXV
SuccessorLuke VI
Orders
Ordination22 October 1953
Consecration14 April 1984
by Mark VII
Personal details
Birth nameJonathan Joseph Alderdyce
Born(1929-09-28)September 28, 1929
Baium,  Sanctaria
DiedJuly 11, 2018(2018-07-11) (aged 88)
Sanctus,  Sanctaria
BuriedBasilica of St. George in Heaven
NationalitySanctarian

Patriarch Simon XVI (Latin: Simeonus XVI; born Jonathan Alderdyce; 28 September 1929 — 11 July 2018) served as the 126th Patriarch of the Church of Sanctaria from 15 March 2003 to his death from cardiac arrest on 11 July 2018. His tenure of over fifteen years is among the longest in papal history. He was the first Patriarch not to be either a Bishop in the Province of Sanctus or the Archbishop of Haven prior to his election since 1402; immediately preceding his translation to the See of Sanctus, he was auxiliary Bishop in Corpus.

He was elected by the Synod of Bishops on 15 March 2003, succeeding Paul XXV as Archbishop of Sanctus and ex officio leader of the Church of Sanctaria, and therefore becoming the Patriarch of the Church. He is the first Patriarch who had not previously served as a Cardinal, the position and title having been abolished after the separation of the Church of Sanctaria from the state of Sanctaria in 1974.[1] Upon election he took the name Simon, becoming the sixteenth patriarch to hold that name.

Simon XVI used his papacy[2] to urge lay and clerical members of the Church to begin more outreach to non-members, and to engage in proselytising and missionary work to combat what he called the "increasing secularisation of the world". He was an advocate of inter-faith dialogue, and frequently met with leaders of other churches and religions.

While Simon XVI frequently spoke about how "humbled" and "gracious" he was that the Church no longer had temporal sovereignty, and that the Church ceding control of Sanctaria and the other constituent states of the Papal States of Sanctaria to democratically elected leaders in 1974 was "something long needed", he did criticise further secularisation of the former nations of the Papal States, including the Divine Republic of Sanctaria where the Church remained the state religion. Simon XVI frequently spoke out against abortion liberalisation by successive Sanctarian governments and decried the nation as "one invaded by sodomists" when Sanctaria legalised same-sex marriage in 2005.

Simon XVI died on 11 July 2018 after falling into a coma following a cardiac episode. He was succeeded by Luke VI on 21 September 2018.

Early life[edit]

Jonathan Joseph Alderdyce was born in Haberry, a district of Baium, a port city on the southern coast of Sanctaria in September 1929. His father, Joseph, was a teacher and an active member in the family's local church. His mother, Maria, died in childbirth with Jonathan's younger sister, called Maria in her mother's honour, in 1934. He attended a Church-ran school in Haberry, and in 1948 graduated from his high school with a diploma. A poor student, later diagnosed as an adult with dyslexia, Alderdyce's father's connections in the Church secured him a place at St. Michael's Seminary, a training college for priests, in the city of Haven located in the eastern part of Sanctaria, away from his family in Baium.

He entered seminary in 1949, and was ordained a priest in October 1953. He celebrated his first mass with his family and neighbours in Haberry in the same church where he attended as a child. Although he considered further clerical education, Alderdyce's superiors convinced him that, due to his adverse scholarly history, immediately turning to parish work would be where he was best suited. Alderdyce petitioned the diocese of Baium to be stationed at a parish in the city so he could be close to his family; in January 1955 he was appointed parish priest of Millnea, a district of Baium, located just a few kilometres from his home district of Harberry.

Career[edit]

Priesthood[edit]

Initially appointed a parish priest in Millnea, in 1956, only about eighteen months after his posting, Alderdyce was moved to the diocese of Nicene, a port city on the west coast of Sanctaria, to work as parish priest and secretary to the Bishop of Nicene, Theodore Lawrence. Reluctant to accept the posting as he did not like to be away from his father or sister, Alderdyce was eventually persuaded by his own conscience to leave after he began to become attracted to a neighbour.[3] He began his work in Nicene in October of 1956, becoming parish priest of Nicene City Centre South district in addition to his duties as secretary.

In May of 1960, the Bishop of Nicene's superior, the Archbishop of Iuvus, requested the Bishop send three parish priests to assist the Archbishop on a personal project; Alderdyce was one of the priests sent to the town of Iuvus, which was the seat of the Archbishop. Here, Alderdyce was tasked with taking minutes of personal meetings the Archbishop was having with priests suspected of breaching their vows of chastity; Simon XVI later commented that this role was one of the most uncomfortable he had ever undertaken, but he claimed that "God would not have asked [him] to do it, if He did not think [he] could".

Fr. Alderdyce was kept on as a parish priest in Iuvus after the Archbishop no longer needed him as a minute-taker. He served as a parish priest in the town of Fernium, located within the archdiocese of Iuvus until December 1967, when he was appointed Vicar-General of the archdiocese in addition to his duties as parish priest. As Vicar-General, Alderdyce was primus inter pares among parish priests in the archdiocese, and was responsible for most of the administration; in this role, he reported to the Archbishop of Iuvus directly. Alderdyce served in this role until February 1975.

In 1975, the recently installed Patriarch Thomas X, the first Patriarch who was solely head of the Church of Sanctaria and not a Sovereign of any temporal entity or government, requested that Alderdyce move to the Province[4] of Sanctus to serve as Vicar General of the Sanctus South diocese[5] under the suffragan Bishop of Sanctus South. Alderdyce was also given the title Monsignor (abbrev. Msgr.) as gratitude for his work as a parish priest, and was cited as being "in tune with the needs of his communities" by Thomas X.

In December 1983 Patriarch Thomas X died and was replaced by the Archbishop of Haven, Mark Billington, who took the name Mark VII. Prior to becoming Archbishop of Haven, Mark VII had served as Bishop of Hibernium, a suffragan See located within the Province of Iuvus, and was familiar with Msgr. Alderdyce and the work he had done while a parish priest there. Mark VII instructed his private secretary to reach out to Alderdyce and see if he would be interested in an episcopate.[6] While Alderdyce was originally very humbled and rejected any opportunity to rise in the ranks of the Church, Mark VII convinced him otherwise and in April 1984, Alderdyce was appointed the Bishop of Cristi, its previous occupant having been translated[7] to fill Mark VII's old position as Archbishop of Haven.

Episcopate[edit]

Msgr. Alderdyce served as Bishop of Cristi from 14 April 1984 until 18 August 1992 when he was translated to the Archdiocese of Corpus to serve as an auxiliary Bishop.[8] While serving as Bishop of Cristi, Alderdyce oversaw a massive reorganisation of parishes in the diocese; the numbers attending Masses were beginning to dwindle and Alderdyce decided to amalgamate many parishes so as to keep churches somewhat full and busy. In order to ensure there were no priests left with no work, Alderdyce began encouraging some of the older priests to take retirement; when they did so, Alderdyce did not replenish the numbers in the diocese, something which as Patriarch he said he regretted.

In June 1989, Patriarch Mark VII died from stroke. Alderdyce wrote in his diaries that he was saddened to learn of Mark VII's death because he "was always a good and kind teacher. The shepard that God wants all of his apostles to emulate". The resulting Synod of Bishops to elect Mark VII's successor was Alderdyce's first as a Bishop, and so many "election waters" did not consider him in the running at all for election as Archdiocese of Sanctus. As Simon XVI, Alderdyce later said the secret ballot was an unnerving experience, and that he prayed so hard he would not be considered. Though the ballot is secret, information from the 1989 Synod suggests that Alderdyce, though new, did garner three votes from the eighty or so gathered bishops. On that occasion, however, the Bishop of Sanctus North, Joseph Hammersley, a brother of a former Prime Minister of the independent Divine Republic of Sanctaria, Richard Hammersley, was elected Archbishop of Sanctus. He took the name Paul XXIV.

In August 1992, Alderdyce was translated to the Archdiocese of Corpus as an auxiliary Bishop to assist the Archbishop of Corpus, Dr. Kevin Bridestone, who was being treated for cancer of the liver. Though not strictly a promotion to Archbishop, as Dr. Bridestone was often too unwell to carry out his duties, Alderdyce was de facto Archbishop even if not de jure. Alderdyce's focus in Corpus was battling the local government over their attempt to divest all Church-ran schools of their religious patronage. Alderdyce was somewhat successful in his fight back, with the end result in Corpus being that the Church still maintained day-to-day control over their schools, but had to accede to a lay and secular majority on the boards of management.

In November 1994, Paul XXIV died in his sleep. As no post-mortem examinations are done on the bodies of Patriarchs as a matter of convention, to this day no one is sure of the exact cause of death, though Paul XXIV's doctors have said he was being treated for pneumonia in the weeks leading up to his death. Alderdyce found himself attending his second Synod of Bishops to elect a new Archbishop of Sanctus and his standing has increased significantly since the last election, with his work as an auxiliary Bishop in the Corpus Archdiocese having attracted favourable media attention. One newspaper, the Corpus Standard, suggested Alderdyce was a favourite to be translated to the See of Sanctus.

Unconfirmed reports from the January 1995 Synod suggest that Alderdyce gained the third-most votes but, in order to end the election quickly, asked those who voted for him to instead cast their ballots for one of the two leading candidates. The Archbishop of Haven, Fr. Solomon Joyce, was elected Archbishop of Sanctus and took the name Paul XXV. When the Synod ended, Alderdyce returned to Corpus as an auxiliary Bishop. Documents from the time suggest that the new Patriarch Paul XXV had asked Alderdyce to replace him as Archbishop of Haven, however as Alderdyce remained in Corpus it can be assumed that he declined the offer.

The Archbishop of Corpus, Dr. Bridestone, recovered from his cancer in the summer of 1998, and Alderdyce's role in Corpus diminished as he returned to his role as an auxiliary Bishop. Archbishop Bridestone tasked Alderdyce with the recruitment of new priests across the Province of Corpus, something Alderdyce found difficult due to the increasing liberal attitudes of Sanctarians, and their increasing hostility to organised religion. "No one wants to give up the life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll", Alderdyce wrote to an acquaintance in December 1998, "is it unfathomable to me why the life of piety and obedience is not one people relish anymore."

Beginning in 1999, Alderdyce began to speak out against the liberal Sanctarian government's progressive policies, accusing them of undermining the religious nature of the country. His messages from the pulpit attracted media attention, and it culminated in a live debate on television with the then-Secretary for Health, Donna Blight, on the proposed abortion laws for the country. Though Parliament later passed the abortion laws, Alderdyce's vociferous pro-life stance and passionate contributions on the program, which attracted a national audience, earned him widespread recognition and, within the Church itself, much acclaim.

Papacy[edit]

Election[edit]

Paul XXV died of terminal stomach cancer in January 2003. His illness was publicly known and many in the Church had been anticipating his death for a number of months. Msgr. Alderdyce once more travelled to Sanctus to take part in a special Synod of Bishops to elect the new Patriarch of the Church. In start contrast to the previous Synods, however, most media outlets and publications were now openly predicting that Alderdyce would be elected as the new Archbishop of Sanctus; he had "enhanced national stature" one publication said, while another conservative outlet lauded him as "defender of the unborn".

It only took two ballots in the March 2003 Synod to elect Alderdyce as the new Archbishop of Sanctus. His election meant that for the first since since 1402, the Patriarch of the Church of Sanctaria hadn't previously served as Archbishop of Haven, or as a Bishop in the Sanctus Province. Alderdyce took Simon as his name, and became Simon XVI.

Inter-faith dialogue[edit]

Simon XVI's election was welcomed by the then-Chief Rabbi of Sancaria, Tobias Abitbol, and the then-Chief Imam of Sancyaria, Sheikh Dr. Sayyid Banisadr, who issued a joint statement saying his outreach work while a Bishop in Corpus has fostered friendship between the religious communities, and that both Muslims and Jews felt welcome at his table. Both Rabbi Abitbol and Dr. Banisadr were invited to, and attended, the inauguration mass of Simon XVI in April 2003.

Throughout his papacy, Simon XVI sought to build a consensus with other religious communities when it came to giving moral or religious statements on current or political affairs. In 2005, for example, the Chief Imam joined with him in condemning same-sex marriage as it was being debated in Parliament. The three leaders of the three major religions in Sanctaria also often came together to jointly condemn violence, usually abroad, but in rare circumstances violence that occurred within Sanctaria.

Moral theology[edit]

Contraception[edit]

In 2008, Simon XVI relaxed Church law and attitudes regarding contraception, saying that "married couples who have lived goodly lives, and have produced at least four children in the Sanctarian Catholic faith shall be granted indulgences to use contraception". He was a frequent opponent to Sanctaria's liberalised laws and attitudes towards contraception, saying the "morning after pill is from Satan himself".

Abortion[edit]

Simon XVI called on clerics in the Church of Sanctaria, as well as lay members of the Church, to "regularly protest" Sanctaria's laws on abortion, which permitted it in may circumstances. When, during the Kindle government, the Secretary for Health Dr. George Merlinson proposed tightening the abortion laws, Simon XVI directed every priest and bishop reading Mass the following Sunday to praise him from the pulpit, and to call him a "pious defender of human life".

In general election campaigns, Simon XVI called on the public to vote for Christian Union Party candidates as they "respect religion, religious teaching, and religious authority, particularly surrounding the scourge that is state-sponsored murder of babies - abortion".

Homosexuality[edit]

Simon XVI frequently spoke out against same-sex attraction and marriage during his tenure as Patriarch. He said "two men married is a mockery of Our Father", and that "normalising deviant lifestyles will corrupt our children". His frequent attacks on the LGBT community attracted criticism from successive governments since his election.

Final years and death[edit]

Health[edit]

Simon XVI enjoyed good health throughout his papacy, with the exception of his eyesight which, in 2011, he admitted via his personal doctor had been worsening due to age-related ocular degeneration. While he was not at risk of total blindess, he had been warned that he may be legally blind within a few years. In 2015, Simon XVI underwent ocular surgery which his surgeons said would give him some relief and temporarily delay further deterioration.

In May 2017, Simon XVI was hospitalised with what his aides said was a "summer cold"; due to his advanced age, his doctors recommended hospitalisation for observation.

Death[edit]

Simon XVI had not been reported ill or feeling ill in the days leading up to his death. His aides say he went to bed at the usual time of 22.30 on Friday, 06 July, to begin preparations for his sermon at Mass on the coming Sunday. Statements by his office have said that the Patriarch began to feel unwell around midnight and turned in for the night, before being awoken by severe chest pain at around 01.40, immediately calling for his aides, who were there within a number of minutes. The symptoms persisted until approximately 02.05 when, according to his aides, Simon XVI took a sharp intake of breath, clutched his chest, and lost consciousness. Doctors had been called when he first reported the chest pains, however they did not arrive until 02.15 at which point they noted he was still alive but not conscious.

Simon XVI was transferred to hospital in Sanctus that morning, and his doctors advised his office that, having undergone some diagnostic tests, the Patriarch's chance of recovery was "slim, at best". Officials from both the President's office and the Prime Minister's office have said that they were contacted around 04.45 to inform them of the Patriarch's condition, as a matter of curtesy.

In the evening of Saturday, 07 July, the Patriarch's office released a public statement confirming that Simon XVI had suffered a cardiac episode and was in an unresponsive coma, with little chance of recovery. The office asked members of the Church to "pray for his immortal soul". Simon XVI remained in hospital in a comatose state until the morning of Wednesday, 11 July when he was officially declared dead by hospital staff. He was eighty-eight years old.

Burial[edit]

The burial mass for Simon XVI took place at 11.00 on Monday, 16 July. He was interred in a pre-prepared tomb in the Basilica of St. George in Heaven, the typical resting spot for deceased Patriarchs. His funeral mass was attended by representatives from other major religions, government and political figures from Sanctaria and other former constituent countries of the Papal States, as well as members of various Church of Sanctaria religious orders.

References[edit]

  1. Until 1974, Sanctaria, as well as other states, were constituent states in what was the Papal States of Sanctaria, a theocratic Empire ran by the Church of Sanctaria, with the Patriarch as Sovereign. In 1972, the Aequitian Decree was announced in which the then-Patriarch, Aequitas, announced that upon his death, the Papal States would dissolve and all constituent nations would become independent, including Sanctaria, and that the Church of Sanctaria would no longer involve itself in temporal government affairs. Aequitas died in 1974, at which time the Papal States were dissolved, and Sanctaria became an independent country with its own constitution, democratically elected government and a new, democratically elected head of state, replacing the Patriarch. All other former constituent nations in the Papal States followed suit however as of 2018, Sanctaria is the only one that has the Church of Sanctaria as its state religion; this affords the Church no power in Sanctaria, it is only an acknowledgement that the majority of the citizenry identify as members of the Church of Sanctaria. Citizens are free to choose whatever religion they wish to follow, or none at all - it is not compulsory to be a member of the Church of Sanctaria, and membership confers no extra status or privilege.
  2. Though the head of the Church of Sanctaria was a Patriarch and not a Pope, as is used in other religions, the terms "papacy" and "papal" were frequently used in place of "patriarchy" and "patriarchal". The former Sanctarian Empire itself was actually called the Papal States of Sanctaria, and not the Patriarchal States of Sanctaria because of this convention.
  3. As Patriarch, Simon XVI later joked that this was his own personal trial sent by God to test him.
  4. A Province refers to an ecclesiastical province, which is headed by a metropolitan archbishop. All dioceses (or Sees) are located within an ecclesiastic province, with the Archdiocese in that province being the seat of the province's chief cleric, the Archbishop.
  5. The See of Sanctus is actually an ecclesiastic province, with the Archbishop of Sanctus (i.e. the Patriarch) also the Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Sanctus Province, and has a number of suffragan sees; the See of Sanctus North, the See of Sanctus South, the See of Sanctus West, and the See of Sanctus East, and the See (technically an Archsee, but no-one refers to it as such) of Sanctus itself.
  6. An episcopate is the office of bishop.
  7. A translation in ecclesiastic terms is when one Bishop is moved to another diocese
  8. Auxiliary bishops are assistant bishops in large Sees.