Habemus Papem

As most of you know, a new pope was elected yesterday. One thing I heard from him resonated with me for some reason. His position is that moral relativism is bad. Moral relativism holds that there is no absolute truth. Pope Benedict XVI believes that there are absolute truths. I went rollerblading tonight and reflected on this statement.

I came to the conclusion that he is indeed correct. There are absolute truths. The sticky point comes in identifying those truths. I want to start by saying that I really like being Catholic. I like the fact that it’s part of my heritage as an Italian as well as much of the tradition and majesty of the Catholic Church. I really enjoy the Mass and the way we worship. It really does it for me spiritually. However, I don’t necessarily agree with everything the church teaches.

The new pope believes many absolute truths, including the celibacy of the clergy, the fact that women cannot be priests, central authority in Rome, among other things. I, on the other hand, disagree with some of these truths. I’ve read my Bible from cover to cover. I’ve read the entire New Testament a half dozen times and selected books even more than that. While I don’t claim to be a Biblical scholar, I know what it says in there. There is no place in which it requires priests to be celibate or says women cannot be ordained. On the celibacy issue, I would agree that it is a noble calling. It allows you to dedicate your life to Christ without any distractions that come from being married and having children. However, there’s something to be said about speaking to a priest that can relate to the issues that may come up in a marriage. After all, what does a celibate priest really know about living with another person or dealing with children?

It doesn’t say either that women cannot be priests. I can point you to one of the letters of Paul where he instructs women to keep their heads covered at church and to get instruction from their husbands. The funny thing is, a few paragraphs earlier in the letter, Paul treats women as equals. Also curiously, the notes in my Bible at the beginning of the letter state there is scholarly belief that part of the letter was written later and inserted into the original. The style of writing is different. As far as I’m concerned, women should have the same opportunities as men. The whole idea of women being subservient to men is just so 19th century.

Our new pope also believes homosexuality is morally evil. Now, I’ve read all of the references to homosexuality in the Bible and know the teaching. It’s something I struggle with sometimes because while the church teaches it as wrong, I cannot bring myself to condemn anyone that is gay. I’ve known and worked with people that were gay. Truthfully, I simply treated them as people. One of the things I firmly believe is that it is not our role to judge others, only God has that power. My responsibility is to love my neighbor and love my God. God knows I’m not perfect. I have enough trouble living up to the ideal Jesus taught us on my own. I don’t have the time or strength to judge others as well. To paraphrase an old saying, I’ll just love everyone and let God sort it out.

Am I coming out and saying that I don’t like this pope or I think his papacy will be a poor one? Not really. Time will tell. I don’t know enough about him to say one way or the other. My real problem is that the cardinals elected an older gentleman. He is 78 years old. They say he is a “transitional” pope. I hate that idea entirely. What’s wrong with having another pope that may be around for another 20 years or so? Not to say that the pope may not live to 98, but lets face it. At 78 he’s in the twilight years. John Paul lived to 84. Anyway, we’ll see what the future brings. I don’t think we’ll get any major changes in policy until our generation reaches their 60s, in about another 20 to 25 years. The pope’s generation comes from a different world and grew up with different values. It was a man’s world back then, and while they may talk of equality, I’m not sure they really embrace it. We need new blood in the church, and it will take some time to get it.


Popular Posts