The pope speaks-A A +A
Saturday, September 28, 2013
ALL of my adult Catholic life, I have lived under the auspices of doctrinal conservatives. I was only 14 when Pope John Paul II became pope. He served for 27 years. He was followed by his doctrinal double, Pope Benedict XVI who served for 8 years. A 35-year reign of dogma and doctrine effectively served to destroy my faith in the Catholic Church.
But no, it did not destroy my faith in God because I knew that I did not need the Church to reach God, to serve God or to do God’s word.
This year, Pope Francis ascends into the papacy. And for the first time in 35 years, I see hope. I have waited and despaired for so long eventually believing I would never live to see the day the Catholic hierarchy would ever have the humility to admit to its faults or ever have the wisdom to acknowledge that the Church is failing its flock.
In my wildest dreams, I never imagined God would send Pope Francis to me.
When Pope Francis became pope, I knew he would be a different pope. I just didn’t know if the difference would rock the Catholic Church. He was obviously pragmatic, not protocol-laden. He was in touch with the poor, attuned to the problems of the people and preferred to fight for social justice rather than debate over doctrinal matters.
He didn’t change doctrinal truths but it was his approach to them that endeared Pope Francis to me. He did not judge. Rather, he
embraced the so-called sinners of the Church. Exactly what Christ did.
Christ did not obsess with the rules. Rather, he embraced those who did not follow the rules. He welcomed them into His fold and forgave them.
Christ did not just preach. He practiced what He preached. He walked his talk. Just as Pope Francis does.
Recently, a friend of mine left the Catholic Church. She said she found the Catholic Church judgmental and condemning. In contrast, her new church was inclusive and welcoming. The Catholic Church should listen and learn. It should remember that true Christianity is about forgiveness and compassion.
Pope Francis says that Catholics cannot obsess and insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.
Wow, I think the Filipino bishops should sit up and listen. The bishops appear, for all intents and purposes, unfazed and unembarrassed by the pope’s words. Frankly, I think they should be.
It’s time they woke up from their 35-year slumber. Love over dogma. It’s the new mantra. Or is it? If memory serves me right, Christ did not preach from the pulpit. He took his ministry to the streets. Love over dogma. It’s not a new mantra.
For 35 years, I have felt alone in my faith. In the last 15 years when I began to write about my unorthodox thoughts on religion and faith, I’ve had my share of scorn but I have stood my ground and stayed steadfast in my faith. To the few, brave men of the cloth who found the courage to commiserate with me, I am deeply grateful.
Today, my heart rejoices. I am not alone. On the contrary, I’m in very good company. Pope Francis has spoken.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 29, 2013.