Wednesday, April 16, 2008

the Pope and me

I've really only known two Popes in my life. Technically, there were more, but I was only really mature enough to understand the significance of the position with John Paul 2 and the current Pope, Benedict.

And I have to say that my view of these Popes has been ambivalent, at best. I admire their intelligence, I admire JP 2's life story, and I somewhat grudgingly will acknowledge that theirs is a difficult job.

But, mostly, my image of them is based on my profound disagreement with their positions -- on contraception, the role of women in the church, altar girls, divorce, the morality of homosexual relationships, the insistence that priests must be celibate and unmarried, etc. I see these teachings as profoundly unhelpful (at best) and as some of the most profoundly troubling obstacles to the Church achieving its mission at worst. (Well, at my worst, I might call them a variety of vulgar names, but you get the idea...)

I think that part of what I find so troubling about their Papacies has been this rigid clinging on to a particular view of tradition, a tendency to claim that certain traditions "cannot" be changed (when such traditions reinforce their pre-existing prejudices, IMHO), and an insistence that "modernity" must listen to (and dialogue with) tradition -- without any hint of mutuality in that discussion.

Which ends up closing the church from a full awareness of how God speaks to people today, in my view. Without this kind of awareness, tradition ultimately becomes dry and lifeless.

And then they decry the declining church attendance figures. Yeesh....

1 comment:

Diane said...

I'm not Catholic, but I remember when John Paul II first became pope, I was really hopeful. He did seem to have a concern for the poor.

I was a little kid when John XXIII became Pope, and it changed so much between Catholics and Protestants.