I was raised massively Catholic. In the 1970s, being massively Catholic meant you had to have several statues of the Virgin Mary, crosses in all the bedrooms, and multiple sets of rosary beads. When you lost Barbie’s go-go boots, you prayed to Saint Jude to help you find them. You believed wearing a Saint Christopher medal would keep you from getting kidnapped, and if you ate meat on Friday, you wouldn’t necessarily go to hell, but you would tick God off.
With all this in mind, I have been watching the election of the new pope with interest. The Catholic church has a lot of issues it needs to address: a serious decline in qualified priests, allegations of child abuse and sexual misconduct, cover-ups at the highest level. Yet, it is still the largest charitable organization in the United States.
I have read a few interesting facts about Pope Francis (AKA Father Jorge Bergoglio). He is a trained chemist, fluent in three languages, and known for his care of AIDS patients. He is the first non-European pope since Gregory III was elected in 731.
I suspect that Jorge will be phoning me any day now to hear my take on the current state of his church. I plan to give him two pieces of advice.
First, he should allow nuns to deliver mass. Historically, only priests can bless the communion and turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Nuns are already running schools and hospitals around the world. These women do amazing work, surely Jesus appreciates their dedication and would not mind extending extra responsibilities to them. Also, the majority of the allegations against the church stem from the misconduct of priests, not nuns. The Catholic church would be wise to bring women out of their cloisters and to the forefront. The church needs more Mother Teresa and less Cardinal Bernard Law.
Second, there has been a long-standing debate about allowing priests to marry. I understand that the church is eager to hold onto ancient traditions and uphold historical guidelines. Currently, there are dozens of orders of the priesthood. For example, as a catholic priest, you can be a Jesuit, a Dominican, or a Franciscan. You can be a Benedictine Monk or a Mercedarina Friar. All these orders serve in different ways, some by preaching, some through education, some focus on the sick and dying. Maintaining the customs and conventions of these groups has historic significance. But, why not create a new order, an order that is allowed to marry. This order could be a different group, a group of men focused on strengthening the family. One does not need to overhaul or change all that is sacred about the current orders, simply start something new. Isn’t it time for a different approach?
Wow! My blog probably just saved the future of the Catholic Church. No need to thank me. A.T.M.G.F.G (which is Catholic for All The More Glory For God)