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For a Lady Pope

What the majority of Catholics expect from Pope Francis

What the majority of Catholics expect from Pope Francis

It’s not up to us to tell Pope Francis what to do. However, without being pretentious, we can refer to demands made in February 2011 by 143 German, Austrian and Swiss theologians in their petition "The Church in 2011: an essential renewal", and to those made by the 329 Austrian priests who, in August 2011, launched an "Appeal to disobedience" and finally to the demands made by the American nuns advocating a different approach to certain ethical problems. It is people close to God who are calling for these changes in the Church. 

We are told that the Pope is a reformer and that he will reorganize the Roman Curia. But the lay faithful do not really care about what happens to the Curia. It is not their concern. What they want to see is developments throughout the whole Church.


What they want 

Next, if the Pope really is a renovator, the position of the Church towards people who are divorced and then remarry should, in principle, be resolved very quickly. Benedict XVI dared not go against the prohibition banning divorced people who then remarry from taking communion, but he did openly reveal his own feelings. During a Mass celebrated in private on April 16, 2012, he gave communion, not to a stranger, but to a man whom he knew (along with all the other members of the assembly) to be divorced and remarried - namely the Minister-President of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer.

The prohibition of contraception should also be banned. We know that 95% of the faithful no longer follow the Pope on this issue. The gap between the Vatican and the vast majority of Catholics on this subject is abysmal. The Church should appeal to the conscience of each individual to choose the most appropriate means of contraception, even if the Church itself continues to advocate the method that this group of single men consider the most ideal, namely that of periodic abstinence.

The fourth point is that of euthanasia and abortion. It is understandable that the Catholic Church rejects a trivialization of euthanasia, but is attacking people the best way of doing this? Regarding abortion, must the Church condemn certain practices deemed medically necessary? Is it necessary to excommunicate a woman who has an abortion after being told that if she gave birth, her child would certainly have a severe and incurable disease and thus be condemned to living in a vegetative state? The Church can place bans on certain things or it can establish and provide guidelines.  In the first case it does not accept freedom of conscience, in the second case it does.

The position of the Church towards in vitro fertilization should also be re-discussed, giving priority to expert opinion. The use of frozen embryos for research is crying out for debate but, even though many so-called Catholic hospitals are performing in vitro fertilization, the subject has been firmly avoided up until now.

The place of women in the Church

The accession of women to the priesthood will be a longer battle, but one that the Church will have to address sooner or later. The ban on putting this up for discussion, instigated by Pope John Paul II, needs to be lifted. The time will surely come when one day a woman will be Pope. The main reasons for prohibilting the ordination of women come from the Old Testament:  women were seen in society as inferior to men and their periodic impurity refrained them from doing certain activities.

A more evangelical view

The attitude of the Church towards people living together also demands a more evangelical view. The new Pope can no longer accept statements such as those of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, saying that "legalising cohabitation is tantamount to recognizing pedophilia and incest." Such statements are simply offensive.

Similarly, the Pope should denounce remarks such as those issued on December 4, 2009 by Mexican Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, who said: "Transsexuals and homosexuals will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

What shocks the majority of the faithful in the Church, is that these positions call for an "all or nothing" approach. That the Church confirms its position in favour of marriage between a man and a woman, that it emphasizes the importance of the family unit, essential for the education of children, is understandable. That it fights against moral relativism is normal. But that it equates cohabitation to heterosexual or homosexual pedophilia and incest…… surely this is a line that can’t be crossed, one that sets the heart, the one that sets humanity? The new Pope will have to seriously reconsider the Church’s position on all these topics.

Ecumenical point of view

From an ecumenical point of view, the Pope should be committed to entering into dialogue with other Christian churches. Here however, the hierarchical position of the Pope causes a few problems. He will have to put water in his wine. Just when is a Mass going to be celebrated with an Anglican priest?

Dialogue with other religions will involve several broad discussions, including that on gender equality, preached (but not always recognised) in the Church since the first century.

Other subjects

There are an awful lot of other subjects that need to be looked at - the role of the laity in the Church, the importance of catechists (mostly women), without whom the Church would quickly die, the dramatic decline in the number of priests (at least in the West), which calls for a complete overview of doctrines. Competent lay people must be allowed to carry out certain tasks such as giving homilies and, knowing that in France the average age of priests is now 70, Rome must give bishops in every parish the right to appoint their own leaders, be they men or women, married or not, and who might hold other posts at the same time.

Roman centralization should also be tackled. The autonomy of bishops is essential and the laity need to be able to choose their bishops. 

A more practical application of evangelical precepts

Last but not least, a return to a more practical application of evangelical precepts remains an ongoing objective, as seen in Matthew 25: "I ​​was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink: I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison and you came to visit me! Whenever you did for this for my brothers, you did it for me. "

We wish the new Pope good luck.

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