Monday, March 11, 2013

If I Were Pope...

As the cardinals prepared for the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, they met to assess the state of the Church and offer suggestions for the kind of leader needed to deal with the crises which the "disfigured face" of the Church is currently showing to the world.

Laity, religious and clergy around the world have likewise expressed their hopes and expectations for the new papacy.

Most of the priests I know have verbalized their wishes and prayers that the new Bishop of Rome will bring energy and credibility to the Church and its mission.

Among the wishful thinking were recommendations (in no specific order) which I have classified under the heading "If I were pope, I would..." some Vatican art treasures and give the receipts to help the poor (cf. Mk 10:21)

...ban the cappa magna (the long red cape or train some hierarchs wear) and simplify clerical and liturgical dress (cf. Mt 23:5)

...urge Catholics to focus on their relationship with God and their love for neighbor rather than their religious practices (cf. Mk 7:5-13)

...develop the responsibility and authority of bishops' conferences (cf. Lumen Gentium, 22-23)

...appoint a board of bishops (on a rotating basis) to oversee the work of the Curia (cf. an idea which surfaced during the Second Vatican Council)

...replace the current English translation of the Roman Missal with a translation developed and approved by the English-speaking bishops (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22.2)

...reaffirm the expectation that the faithful be actively engaged in the liturgy, fully aware of what they are doing (cf. Sacosanctum Concilium, 11)

...ordain women as deacons (cf. ancient Church practice)

...restate every human being's "right to freedom in searching for the truth and in expressing and communicating his opinions and in pursuit of art, within the limits laid down by the moral order and the common good" (cf. Pope John XXIII's Pacem In Terris, 12)

...reform the way the papal primacy is exercised without renouncing what is essential to its mission (Pope John Paul II's Ut Unum Sint, 95).

...respond to the victims of the abuse scandal, "do everything that we can to help, support, and heal them; secondly, that such acts be prevented by the proper selection of candidates for the priesthood, as much as possible; and thirdly that perpetrators be punished and be bared from any opportunity to repeat such acts" (cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World - A Conversation With Peter Seewald p. 28).

...revisit the requirement that limits Catholic theologians to explaining (but never exploring or questioning) the magisterium  (cf. the cooperation between bishops and theologians at Vatican II)

...declare a Year of  the Consecrated Woman, celebrating the vocation, ministry and heritage of religious sisters and nuns (cf. common sense).

The worldwide list of proposals and policies for the new Bishop of Rome would fill volumes. The expression of such hopes and dreams, however, seems to me a healthy sign --that laity, religious and clergy take the mission and ministry of the Church seriously and want very much to be involved in building the Kingdom of God on earth.  For that, "Amen, Alleluia!"

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