As a disenfranchised Catholic, I cannot help but be intrigued and even a little hopeful about Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. I do not like Benedict even though I love the church. I grew up Catholic, was both an altar and choir boy, and even considered becoming a priest. I can’t imagine how that would have turned out.
Nonetheless, the American/Roman Catholic culture became my culture. My friends were Catholic. We attended the Catholic grade school and church at the corner of my street. I later went to a Catholic high school and college (University of Dayton). I especially loved the new music in the church, and played and sang those songs in a church music group for years. I even came to appreciate the deep meaning and spiritual significance of the Mass and other Catholic traditions.
I miss those parts of being Catholic because they are so much a part of who I am. However, like so many others, I can no longer tolerate both the fact of clergy child sexual abuse, and the church hierarchy’s cover up of the same. Neither can I abide the church’s homophobic positions, philosophy, and teaching. Did you ever notice when Benedict has discussed these, he does not refer to scripture, nor even mention Jesus, let alone his teachings about love and lack of judgment. Perhaps this is because the gospels, ostensibly, have also sanctioned the power of the Vicar of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter (“I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it,” Matthew 16:18, New American Standard Bible (©1995), emphasis added), as well as his minions, to assess judgment upon sinners.
Purportedly, this power, conferred by Jesus himself in John 20:23, New American Standard Bible (©1995) (“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained”) takes precedent in the minds of the Church over Jesus’ direct order: “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” John 15:12, New American Standard Bible (©1995). And, what about this rather direct admonishment? “Do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. . . .” Luke 6:37, New American Standard Bible (©1995).
I have never heard an explanation for this elevation of one of Jesus’ principles over that of others, and would love to read the apologetics which justifies this doctrine promulgated by the self perpetuating (and protecting) hierarchical system known as the church. But, that is perhaps another matter.
Be that as it may, apparently not all church members agree with these judgmental policies. “Equally Blessed, an LGBT-inclusive Catholic group, issued a statement upon Benedict’s announcement and said members were ‘grateful that Pope Benedict XVI had the foresight and humility to resign his office for the sake of the church to which he has given his life.’
The organization added that the Roman Catholic Church now has the opportunity to change the church and overturn oppressive, homophobic policies.
‘We pray for a pope who is willing to listen to and learn from all of God’s people. We pray for a pope who will realize that in promoting discrimination against LGBT people, the church inflicts pain on marginalized people, alienates the faithful and lends moral credibility to reactionary political movements across the globe. We pray for a pope who will lead the church in looking the sexual abuse scandal squarely in the eye and make a full report on the complicity of the hierarchy in the sexual trauma inflicted on children around the world. We pray for a pope who is willing to make himself vulnerable on behalf of the voiceless, the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed.’” http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2013/02/11/pope-benedict-xvi-announces-resignation.
I wish I could be as genial and hopeful, but, sadly, I must acknowledge as have others that many of the Cardinals who will select Benedict’s successor (and from whose ranks he will be chosen) were handpicked by Benedict himself. Thus, it is very likely that they share his views and support his policies.
I pray from the depths of my soul for a pope who will truly believe these words from a popular Catholic hymn*:
I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart
*Written by Daniel Schutte and recorded by Daniel O’Donnell in 1981 after Vatican Council II. Its words are based on Isaiah 6:8 and 1 Samuel 3. The song was then published by North American Liturgy Resources which later was purchased by New Dawn Music, a subsidiary of Oregon Catholic Press. It’s been used at many Papal Masses. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Citations omitted).
- COMMENTARY: Pope Benedict XVI’s missing mea culpa (religionnews.com)
- Ten reasons for Catholics to give thanks for Pope Benedict (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Cardinal Roger Mahony heads to Rome as Pope Benedict XVI resigns (swrnn.com)