Sunday, 29 December 2013

Pope Francis, Catholicism, The Vatican, The United Nations, Empire and Women & Children

I have been asked by a few people what are my thoughts on Pope Francis. I warm to what I see but I do reserve judgment. I don't believe that one man can turn around the culture of the insular Vatican or the wide Catholic diaspora. 

I believe there are inhibiting and evil cultures at work within the Vatican and within Catholicism at large. One of them is the culture of almost two thousand years of Roman style administration - the administration of Empire. The Catholic Church has been ruling a physical empire - not just a spiritual one. This flies in the face of Jesus who said his kingdom was not of this world. Central to the continuity through changing times and controversies has been the exercise of power across the world through an administration both Roman and Catholic.

This power has as one of its foundations exclusion. This exclusion is seen most clearly in the church's attitude to women and children. Children are powerless still. Women do have power and agency in this day and age ... but, with only rare exceptions, this is a product of the 20th century.

I don't applaud Pope Frank for having some of the better dressed poor to breakfast. That is not a world first. I will know things are on their way when the Vatican is handed back to the Italian Government and the Lateran Treaty is null and void; when the Catholic Church becomes a stateless entity with no representation at the United Nations.

One other thing is needed from top to bottom and that is a policy of inclusion as opposed to the current policy of preferment. Excluded women and children have to be welcomed into the centrality of the Church. A clear sign that this is happening will be the abolition of required celibacy within the Church. I know there is a long queue of women, particularly in religious orders, awaiting ordination to the priesthood. However, a reformed church will take into itself people from the pews IRRESPECTIVE of age, gender, ethnicity, educational qualifications.

The Catholic Church has long called itself The Universal Church. This is a lie. It is not The Universal Church as long as there are people excluded from its ranks simply on the basis of who they are rather than what they have to contribute.

So dear Pope Frank, I do give you ten out of ten for style. But more than style is required. Substance is of the essence and that must be, as far as contemporary humans are able, enduring. You will have to upset whole tribes of Vatican huggers and preferred prelates ... but I do believe that if you do it well - and you are capable of doing it well - there will be loud applause from the pews and beyond. You might even find many who have moved from the Church finding their ways back to inclusion.

Total Pageviews