The “McCarrick Scandal”, the Pennsylvania Report, and the internecine writings of Cardinal Vigano have made anger, questions, and disappointment tangible once again. The secrets of the Church are no longer secret — but the stuff of national news reports. The deaths of John McCain and Aretha Franklin have brought a brief reprieve from the dark reporting about the sin and crime of sexual abuse.
Many will spend time seeking the causes of sexual abuse of minors. Some will unfairly blame homosexuality; some will write about a so-called “gay subculture” in the clergy and even in the Roman Curia. We will hear about the all male power structure and questions will be raised about seminary formation.
Rather than wondering and writing about the causes of today’s crisis, I want to envision the Church that might be in time to come. Changes are coming. For me, I see and hope for a Church that is —-
More Human –The evidence of sin, failure, crime – the embarrassment of leaders blaming others – claims of ignorance – the open battle between the conservative and progressive wings of the Church make our humanness evident. Our leaders are mere mortals. Father, Monsignor, Bishop, Cardinal, Pope – are earthly titles for human beings. Church titles do not give one a bigger portion of “divine wisdom.”
The spirit of wisdom and truth has been given to the Church — not only the ordained. A divine message has been entrusted to a cracked, earthen messenger.
Less Royal & Less Pompous – Some Bishops and a large number of young priests want to bring back the pre-Vatican II ROYAL priesthood and its trappings — lace, liturgical garb in public settings, the Latin language, —– all set the clergy in a world apart from the “people of faith.” With different clothes and bigger chairs on raised platforms, too many clergy attempt to speak down to people from their self-imposed places of judgment.
Self-knowledge and honest self-evaluation should make everyone a bit more humble, speaking from a place of humility.
Pope Francis calls for shepherds who “smell like the sheep.” He calls for leaders to be among the people – not removed or separated from the people.
Privilege — if any — comes not as a right of ordination — but from true service and sacrifice.
More Ecumenical and Interfaith – For too long we have professed that “there is no salvation outside the Church” and have tried to distinguish the Church of Rome from other “faith communities” or have come up with theological gymnastics to explain how other churches with a little “c” are connected to us with a big “C”.
There is but “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” — “One God” who is Father of ALL. It is rather difficult — in light of ongoing crises — to proclaim that we are better than the rest of mankind. Truth exists outside the RC circle.
We are called to be KINGDOM people who evangelize — not mere keepers of human tradition.
More inclusive of Women in Leadership– Watching the memorial service for Senator McCain, it was impossible to not see the role played by a female bishop in the National Cathedral. From my own experience of working these past eight years in the legal world and in the world of public education, I have seen a different temperament, a different level of communication, and different decision making when women hold real authority. Literally, the “old boys club” is shattered.
Of more service and less dogmatic – The Epistle of St. James has reminded us that we are to be “doers of the word and not mere hearers [preachers] of the word.” We are told that “pure religion” is to care for the “orphans and widows”, i.e. those in need. It is more important that we tend to the heart rather than cleansing the vessels or worrying about how hands are formed for prayer.
Able to listen before teaching apologetics – It is true that many people do not understand “why” the Church teaches certain things. We do need to teach apologetics.
However, it is also true that many people do not believe certain teachings because they just do not believe it, i.e. they do not accept it. And, just because FATHER SAYS IT IS TRUE — does not make it true. Worrying about Harry Potter and teaching that doing Yoga is equal to worshipping Satan diminishes the teaching authority of the Church.
Maybe the world did begin to go to hell with the rejection of Humane Vitae — maybe not. Maybe the fact that the majority of people and religious groups now accept same-gender-relationships is a sign that we are all hedonistic — maybe not.
Rather than listening with ears and hearts for the moving of the Spirit — maybe — the Church has convinced itself that it is better to be “lone voice in the desert” speaking a word that fewer and fewer will believe.
Maybe the so-called gay-subculture has actually become a part of culture — in the world of art and entertainment, in the world of law and education, in the world of politics and finances —- in the world of sports and religion. The gay world is not SUB-cultural — but cultural.
The Roman Catholic Church will surely survive. Studying history reminds us that we have had hard, bloody times before.
Most people today base their faith on Jesus and the living Holy Spirit. Faith is not based on priests, bishops, or the Pope. Most people of faith are able to distinguish between divine precepts and human teaching. Most people’s faith is based on a faith-community and not the institutional hierarchy of the Church.
The Church will survive — and it will be dramatically different than it now is. A few years ago people were shocked with Pope Benedict resigned and retired due to health. How could a Pope resign? Weren’t Popes suppose to die in office? Now, we have witnessed a Cardinal [Vigano] calling for Pope Francis to resign. We are witnessing bishops speaking with different voices and different messages. It appears that one-side is lining up against the other side as if they were members of opposing boxing teams.
Before God created the world —- there was only chaos. From chaos God created the world. From the chaos of today, God will once again create.