If one travels to the World Methodist Museum at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina (at the headquarters of the World Methodist Council), or if one picks up the book, Treasures of the World Methodist Museum, one will discover a ring given to Methodist Bishop, Fred P. Corson, by Pope Paul VI. At the time that the Pope gave the ring to the Methodist Bishop, he said, "I have made you a Cardinal In Pectore."
A Cardinal In Pectore literally means, a Cardinal in my breast or heart. It is a way that a Pope makes a "secret Cardinal." Now, as a secret cardinal, they cannot function as a Cardinal unless and until the Pope makes such appointment public. Indeed, in some cases, the person in question may not even be aware of their elevation to the position of Cardinal! However, once it is made public, the Cardinal gains rank among the Cardinals from the time of his In Pectore appointment. - If the appointment is never made public, then the Cardinalship ceases at the time of the Pope's death.
It does not appear that Bishop Corson's appointment was ever made public by the Pope. However, made public or not, whether one is able to function as Cardinal or not, whether one is aware that the Pope has given you that rank or not, a Cardinal In Pectore is, nevertheless, a real, true Cardinal (so long as the Pope is alive)!
Why would a Pope make a secret Cardinal? In general, Popes may do so when it seems that such a person's life would be endangered by giving them such a position. An example of this would be Cardinals named in the People's Republic of China or prior to the fall of the Soviet Union. . . . Perhaps another reason for making a "secret Cardinal" might be that the person in quesiton is a PROTESTANT, METHODIST BISHOP!
It really does raise the question, though, can the Pope really name as Cardinal a non-Roman Catholic, whose orders are not recognized by the Church of Rome?
Well, Bishop Corson was elected a Methodist Bishop in 1944. He also served as the President of the World Methodist Council in 1961. He was an observer at the Second Vatican Council. He also held a number of private audiences Popes, and was considered to be close friends with Pope Paul VI. - And apparently the Bishop of Rome esteemed him so highly he made him a Cardinal In Pectore!
|Pope Paul VI and Bishop Fred P. Corson|
(picture found on eBay)