Currently, my most significant connection to the Catholic Church is the music. I spent 13 years of my life in catholic school. All of those years I was in a Catholic Church choir, often, if not always, I was in two. To this day, hearing a traditional hymn brings me back to a time when I had a lot more faith. The music calls to a deep faith in God, his Son and his Spirit as well as a deep need for guidance while here on earth. For me now, the music is a chicken and egg situation. Does the need we sing about come from our faith or does the faith come from our need?
I admire Pope Benedict XVI for stepping down. He recognized that he could no longer do his job because of physical ailments, and this admission I think speaks to some of the changing times and the changing tradition of the church. The Pope and his people may never again have a "till death do us part" vow in their relationship because often there are a few extra steps on the way to death these days, thanks to modern science. The pope acts as a spiritual leader, but also has real responsibilities that old age and declining health may keep him from fulfilling.
Currently, 115 men are deciding the fate of the Catholic Church. It's no surprise that people are feeling that even this process of decision is dated. I have to agree. However it's not today's modern way of thinking that makes me think we need to find a more progressive way of running the church. It's the stories I've read about Jesus Christ that lead me to believe he would have wanted something different.
Jesus hung with beggars, lepers and even prostitutes. He heard their prayers, forgave their sins and welcomed them to the table over and over again. Jesus destroyed the shopkeepers stands at the temple and asked people to embrace their enemies even as they spit on their faces or stole their clothes. He was really, by all intents and purposes a radical; then and now. He preached acceptance and unconditional love. Secrecy, pomp and circumstance, power - none of these things were ever in the equation.
I think Jesus had it right in so many ways, but I'm not seeing these things reflected in 115 plump men sitting in a gilded room trying to make a decision for over one billion people. If anything, I see Jesus as democratic, optimistic, friendly and genuine. The hierarchy of the church doesn't mesh with the portrait painted in the bible over and over again of a man who touched the poor, the sick and the shamed.
Men of conclave, you will reach a Decision soon, I am sure of it as the well being of your church and livelihood depends on it. But how many more conclaves can go on without a shift in thinking? The church belongs to its members. In today's modern age of information we are no longer a flock of sheep waiting for your guidance. Let us in on the conversation. It may surprise you what can happen when we all sing together.