Thursday, February 28, 2013
Many people, including many Catholics, are focusing on what kinds of things the new pope should change or not change. It is tempting, because we are a democracy, to compare the papal election with our own presidential, congressional and even local elections and make the election about issues. There is nothing wrong with it being about issues in a democratic nation. We have ways of passing laws and if the majority of citizens through our elected representatives want something then it can be done, even though a minority may lament the change. In a papal election it is really not about issues but rather about what kind of person is elected, a person who is hopefully holy, but who also can govern, speak several languages and speak to the broad range of cultures that comprise the Church. This latter point is especially urgent since most of the Church does not now reside in Europe or North America.
That having been said there are, of course, issues that will arise. I think that the next pope must forthrightly and transparently put the sex abuse crisis in the rear view mirror and not cover for anyone, even high ranking people, including bishops. Pope Benedict made some big strides, but more must be done.
As for other issues the Church cannot just change things because a lot of people want it that way. There are beliefs that by their nature are unchangeable. There are other things that can change but they won;t change by arguing that the majority of people want the change, but by showing that there are theological reasons for doing so and that the living tradition of the Church can be better brought forward by implementing such changes. This takes time.
I am not making these points for the sake of being against change. Those who know me understand that I am in favor of several changes, not to doctrine, but to the way leadership is exercised and faith is expressed. I am saying that it is important that we understand how things work.
As a said a few blog posts ago this is above all a time for prayer, prayer to elect the right person to be pope and prayer for the healing of the wounds of the Church and for her continued growth in this time of new evangelization.