Thursday, September 19, 2013
Kudos to a Pope. What Hath Reason Wrought?
I’ve never claimed to be infallible...I’ll leave that imaginary condition to the Papal Office. It’s entirely possible that I may have been wrong about Pope Francis.
[Pauses while gasps from readers die down]
OK…take a breath and relax. I’m neither going soft on religion, nor handing out any accolades to the Cat-Hole-Lick Church. But I had placed this pope in the same class as all other popes; unmoving, iconoclastic, a slave to historic doctrine, a foe of modernity, gays, women, heretics, and just about anything else that doesn’t conform to Catholic doctrine.
Today the pope came out with an interview to America magazine, a Jesuit publication, in which he said the Church has been “obsessed” with contraception, abortion and gay marriage. That maybe it’s time to move away from that emphasis and focus more on acceptance and love than staunch anti-activism (that’s my term, not his). A few weeks ago he offered an olive branch to atheists, acknowledging one needn’t be a believer to be good or do good – that people can be “good without God,” as the oft invoked atheist slogan goes. This is a far cry from the words of his predecessors.
Both stories here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/19/pope-francis-gay_n_3954776.html?utm_hp_ref=religion
Does this mean the Church is going to suddenly reverse itself? That it will countenance gay marriage, openly gay priests, a woman’s right to choose, condoms and “the Pill”? Of course not. It will take centuries for that kind of reason to migrate into the Church’s dogma. For the time being, it’s just words.
What it means, however, is that the Cardinals screwed up. I doubt they intended to choose as pope who is not simply a robe wearing, pope mobile riding, drone, mouthing the same old Catholic script and digging in his heals against the changing tide of society and its evolving mores. My guess is they are in a tizzy over this pope’s new tone and emphasis.
More importantly it also means that the Church has taken a baby step toward modernity, perhaps because of the pope’s realization that no society, culture, or religion lives for ever like a rock in a stormy sea - no matter how old or how venerated it cannot remain untouched by the world around it. That they must either adapt or die the death of irrelevance and obsolescence.
Pope Francis has set that adaptation in motion. Whether it has legs, whether it will out live him, whether it is embraced, nurtured and expanded upon by the next pope, the Catholic hierarchy, and the next generation of Catholic laypeople remains to be seen. But I know this… if this kind of reasoned heresy was uttered by a pope 500 years ago, he’d have been the unfortunate victim of an accidental ingestion of poison.
No, not willing to embrace the pope and kiss him on his fat face. And I’ll remain skeptical as to where this will lead, if anywhere. But I’ll give him kudos, and a tip of the hump just for having the sense and guts to realize the time has come to shake up the old guard to whom condemnation, persecution, and sex obsession is the Church’s raison d'être.
Good for you, “Padre”.