With the Pope resigning there has been a lot of talk about the Catholic Church and its future. I guess I’ll throw in my two cents.
When the Pope announced his resignation, I was immediately suspicious. This of course hasn’t happened in centuries. Historically a pope who resigns is frowned upon by history, and as this pope is a scholar first, he knows this. Now he did say after elected that he would do this if he got ill, we just sort of forgot that. However I can’t but help to wonder if there is more.
The sex abuse scandal has rocked the Church. I hope it has had an effect on the hierarchy as well. Before he was pope, Cardinal Ratzinger asked to be put in charge of all the sex abuse claims. So he was aware of what was going on. It can be argued that Pope John Paul II wasn’t told, but Ratzinger knew. There is evidence that he wanted to do more about the problem, but was stopped from the inside. We will never know really. I simply wonder if it played a part in his quitting.
Personally I am horrified by the abuse and how the hierarchy covered it up. We know that it wasn’t just the bishops, but that the cover up went all the way to the Vatican. If you have read my bio you can probably guess that I find few acts more disgusting than child molestation. I think that anyone who molests a child should go to prison, even if they are a priest, as should everyone who covered up the crime, be they a mother who turned a blind eye, or a bishop. As you can imagine, I am not a fan of the hierarchy right now.
All that being said, I am still a Catholic. I love the Church and I will never leave it in any way. Remember that the people are the Church,not the hierarchy. Corruption in the clergy is nothing new, but the Church will always muddle through it.
That brings me to another point. I have been reading a lot of criticism on the way the Church works. I agree with some of it, there should be more transparency, however many people want the Church to suddenly allow women priests, embrace homosexuality, and give up on their stance on birth control. I find it odd that people would expect any of this, or even get mad about it. The Church is old. It is older than any government in existence and pretty much any other organization. It will be here long after America is just a memory. Many people think that the Church should be more progressive, but the teachings of the Church are ancient and pretty much unchanging. We should focus on changing how the Church works rather than on trying to change doctrine or dogma.
Which brings me back to St. Francis, as I tend to do. God told St. Francis, “Rebuild my Church, for can you not see that it is falling down.” The Pope had a dream about Francis before he met him where St. Peter’s was crumbling, but Francis held it up. It is the mission of the Franciscans to constantly rebuild the Church, for it is constantly falling down. Not by attacks from the outside, but from the corruption and failings of those on the inside. While it is our mission specifically it is actually every Christians duty to keep the Church from falling. We can’t give up on Her, and we can’t abandon Her.
I hope and pray that we get a Pope who will clean up the Church. Someone who will stand up for the victims of perverted priests. Someone who will fight the corruption. I also hope it is someone from the developing world, someone from the Global South rather than from Europe. It is of course out of our hands, but we can, as always, pray.