It is almost 9AM on Wednesday (my day away) here in Akron, OH and black smoke is still coming out of the famed chimney at the Vatican telling us that we are still without pope. To that end here are a couple more thoughts on items that have been circulating in the news recently.
This pose should relate better to today’s Catholics. I would challenge that position. I think it wiser to say that today’s Catholic should become more in touch with today’s Church. We look in the mirror and think, “Here is the Church.” We are surrounded by people just like us, perhaps with similar issues and we think, “The pope should pay more attention to us! We are the Church! These are our issues. If he wants to be effective and (forgive me) relevant he needs take action on these items.
But today’s Catholic is more than a suburban, minivan driving, smart phone owning, T.V. watching westerner. As a matter of fact, we make up a much smaller portion of the Church than one might think.
A popular topic bandied around is women’s ordination. Many think the Church will fall apart unless the new pope addresses this issue. It is not as big an issue in the overall Church as one might think. One time I was privileged to travel to Zimbabwe and talk with Catholics there. We brought up western issues and were mostly met with blank and puzzled stares. “Women priests? You are worried about women priests when we are worried about food, equality, safety, AIDS, freedom, sanitary conditions, oppressive governments . . .” We were quite laughed at.
Now we might say the pope needs to pay more attention to first world Catholics and I would agree. There is a lot of work to be done here. But whenever one speaks of today’s Catholic, keep in mind the family living in a mud hut with a thatch roof, who goes to Mass on Sunday, has only one change of clothes, and who, when he sees a car, thinks it a novelty is just as much a Catholic and deserving just as much attention.
I am shocked to my core that there are politics involved with the election of the pope. Well, of course there is. Just like those pushing an agenda for “today’s Catholics,” there are those electing a pontiff who have strong beliefs concerning what type if pope is needed to run “today’s Church.” Of course they are going to talk about it, lobby for it, ask and bargain for a vote. I think some people imagine the cardinals sitting quietly in a room until the Holy Spirit descends upon them with the name of the guy for whom they are supposed to vote.
God gave us brains and bodies. We are to use them for His glory and for our benefit. Names arise, talents debated, factions rise and fall and not all of it altruistic but all accompanied by prayer. In the end one name arises and one of two things we pray is the case: that this was indeed the man the Holy Spirit wished to be picked from out of all that human activity or that this is a man that God can work with.
In the mean time – lobby away.