Pope Benedict has decided to abdicate on February 28, 2013. It seems that the Catholics, especially the Vatican (the Holy See), has been provided a great opportunity to continue with developments which are needed to reconcile what is being promoted as dogma and what is actually being practiced by Catholic laity. A great opportunity to implement reconciliations has been presented to the Catholic Church.
For example, human sexuality makes it very difficult to live a totally celibate life. The heterosexual couple is the reproductive norm, even though today many same sex partnerships are accepted. As an outcome of the many pedophile cases, Catholic priests could be allowed to marry, have a wife and family, and provide the laity the example of a married life that is possible.
Over the years, priests have had affairs resulting in children who grow up with no usual family structure to experience during their developmental years. ‘Neither man
(nor woman) live by bread alone’. Also, there are three kinds of marriage: matriarchy, patriarchy, and partnerships. Very good marriages are generally ‘full partnerships’.
1) At some point in the future, women should be allowed to become priests, bishops, cardinals, and even the Pope. The Catholic Church is not ready for this today because the present patriarchy does
not accept this concept.
2) The many examples of pedophilia which may now be placed in full light, so that abuse or exploitation of vulnerable youth may be resolved. The laity would benefit from a normative standard of acceptable human behavior which does not exploit nor do harm to another individual. The Church needs to realize that a celibate priest does not exemplify the Christian life which current dogmas profess.
3) If a heterosexual couple in a committed relationship, wishes to practice family planning, that should be all right. Let the laity use and implement their God-given ‘free will’ to be accountable
and responsible decision-makers. If a child is begat, then both parties must provide for that vulnerable child for the duration of its formative years.
4) The Catholic Church, as an influential faith institution, needs to present the reality that “God created the universe, including the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our home.” It must deal with the current concept of resource ownership. There are sufficient resources on this planet to provide for the needs of all peoples. Many wealthy and influential persons are now focused on the idol, ‘money’. rather than Christian stewardship. Current capitalistic commerce in America permits the great accumulation of wealth, but provides no methods for the redistribution of that wealth to those in need. Reallocation of wealth via taxation and altruism is inadequate in this complex interdependent society.
5) The current secular norms are insufficient to permit those of great wealth and influence to make decisions which result in the ‘greatest good’ for ‘the greatest number’. Economists such as Robert Reich
(economist, U.C. Berkeley) have pointed out that the current middle class is not being provided necessary opportunities to earn ‘middle class incomes’ which allow for discretionary money. With its own house in order, the Catholic Church could influence changes in ‘personal values’ which decision-makers may use to achieve a higher level of responsible stewardship of resources.
6) The Catholic Church still commands a lot of respect and influence. It could begin to re-visit the current concept of ‘Separation of Church and State’. While a secular government is the American norm, the ordinary citizen in America must learn that the Founding Fathers, back in 1776, were all persons of great religious faith. It is their knowledge about, and belief in, “Providence” which permitted them to
write the Declaration ofIndependence and The American Constitution which is our current ‘Law of the Land’. A greater number of citizens need to understand that a belief in God and a practice of the Ten Commandments is of substantial value in having safe and secure civil communities.
Let’s hope that the College of Cardinals, once sequestered in the Sistine Chapel, will take advantage of this situation. The next Pope will have a great opportunity to reconcile many discrepancies between faith, dogma, and ‘those wrongs left unattended and unresolved’. In this day, when information technology permits very high levels of communication, the next Pope will have an opportunity to set several
issues back on the right course for all of humanity. Let’s hope and pray for that outcome.