The answer is a resounding no! How can Christ himself not be the Vicar of Christ? I am not afraid to speak my mind because love, at times, involves conveying tough messages, creating discomfort, but ultimately moving ahead in a positive and constructive manner. The recent resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the choice of his ultimate successor have caused great interest and excitement internationally, however, what is the "right" direction for selecting the next Pope and the Catholic Church at this critical junction.
My view is simple. I feel the Catholic Church is too concerned with control. Control of the followers. Control of the priests. Control of the Church's history. Control of the mass. The control results in church management rather than church leadership. Do we want the See of Peter to be a good manager or someone who sets an inspirational example of Jesus and his teachings? A manager can put all the controls in place to protect its assets, but if the goal is to flourish, then a leader is what is needed. The Catholic Church needs a leader now more than ever.
What is the result of management in the Catholic Church? Followers are decreasing overall worldwide. It is extremely difficult to attract new priests. Criminal acts committed against children and even worse are the cover-ups by priests. Bribery, corruption and the list goes on. Last week Cardinal O'Brien, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, called for relaxation of celibacy of priests. He has publicly denounced same-sex relations and marriages. This week he resigned amidst allegations of inappropriate advances to other priests. In the US, 10,000 people signed a petition for Cardinal Mahoney, who was involved in covering up sexual abuse by priests, to not attend the upcoming papal conclave. How can the highest ranking priests be embroiled in such controversy? How can the Vatican be the target for bribery and corruption? The controls of management will lead to a church always on the defensive because it is looking inwards. What does an outward and flourishing church, with an inspirational Pope who resembles Jesus, look like for the twenty-first century? Let us start with the Pope.
Firstly, the next Pope does not have to be one of the 115 Cardinals starting to congregate in Rome this week. The Cardinals can select anyone but the closed process dictates it will be one of the 115 Cardinals. Take your time to choose the next Pope. Setup a website where people across the world can submit nominations. Interview people over a few months and get the best candidate, someone who resembles Jesus. Also, women should be allowed to be Catholic priests and also Pope. Mother Teresa set a great example with her life. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have someone of Mother david hoffmeister stature be chosen as Pope? Women have broken all kinds of historical barriers and they are excelling in many fields, even past men. Great energy and vitality would be injected into Catholicism if women were allowed to become priests. Furthermore, the new Pope should be a leader with regard to the faith not necessarily a manager. She/he should be loving, warm, humble, contrite, forgiving, courageous and a great communicator (an automatic qualification is not knowing five or more languages). Pope John Paul ll showed great leadership when he visited Cuba and met with Fidel Castro. As a result of the visit, Fidel Castro re-instated Christmas as a public holiday. Additionally, the new Pope should be a globetrotting traveler. Get out of Rome and meet with the followers. Lastly, a younger Pope would be able to meet the demands of travelling and a busy schedule. Now that we have taken care of the Pope, we can look at the reforms for the Church.
Sunday mass is very functional and predictable, like a Big Mac. I know what to expect every time. I would like mass to be more uplifting, more engaging, and more charismatic. It needs some room for it to be personalized. Perhaps a theatrical play can be used as a homily. Perhaps more instruments and melody can come from the choir. Upgrade the sound systems and equipment. I really enjoyed when my priest in Brampton took time to explain the meaning of parts of the mass and church, rather than strictly discussing the Gospels. Breathe life into the mass rather than follow rote procedures without any thought. If Jesus walked into a Catholic Church today, would he be welcomed, and more importantly what would he say? Open the Church to those that are less fortunate and down-trodden. Welcome the sick and marginalized. Help rehabilitate those who have made mistakes and want to make amends. Let a reformed sinner do a reading. Let a vagrant be an usher. Let a same-sex couple bring up the offering. Have a voice in the community. Undertake in peaceful protests if necessary. Take some general guidance from Rome, but have the latitude to personalize and localize the Church. Also make sure Jesus and his teaching are present by virtue of the sick, poor, weak and marginalized.