LettersEditorial Thursday, March 28th, 2013
Francis, rebuild my church
“Francis, rebuild my church,” is a line from a dream, according to legend, Pope Innocent III had before he approved what would come to be known as the Rule of St. Francis, the foundation of the Order of Poor Friars. Innocent had a dream of a crumbling St. John Lateran, the pope’s cathedral, and a man who looked like St. Francis of Assisi starting to rebuild the church. A metaphor for the scandal rocked the church of the 12th century that the man from Assisi was saving, but could the pope have been dreaming of a man from the Society Of Jesus, based on the Rule of St. Francis, taking the name Francis as supreme pontiff and saving the lame Bride of Christ today?
I’m not a believer and I consider myself agnostic, but I’m a heritage Catholic as my family is Catholic. Since my grandmother died I attend Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter and Christmas Mass; attend mass with my mom when I go home and this summer I’m flying back to Missouri to see my great aunt celebrate 60 years as a Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration. Before I came out to myself I considered being a Jesuit and took Ignatius Loyola as my confirmation name. Had I been born in a different time without a doubt I would have done that instead of becoming a drag nun. With that said I couldn’t stand the “classic” pope, but unlike the coke of the ‘80s I love the “new” pope.
Like all of us he is a conflicted man with a past; and as I was taught all sinners have a future and all saints have a past. While there are questions about his role in the Dirty War, he did advance the cause for Sainthood for several people who were killed by the regime. Of the two Jesuits who said that the then superior general of the order in Argentina gave them up, one, Francisco Jalics, said that after several meetings with the then Cardinal Bergoglio, he now believes he had no involvement. But questions still remain for many and I don’t think anyone would ever be satisfied with any answer from that.
And another morsel from the past is his beef with President Kirchner and the LGBT of Argentina and his statements of marriage equality being a tool of the devil and adoption by gays discrimination of children.
Yeah, it took the wind out of my sails when I heard that, but I have faith as a Jesuit that the man had a reason for the comments.
Remember, according to Canon Law all sex outside of a legal and valid marriage that can produce children is a sin to the Catholic Church. He fought to allow divorced people not to be denied Communion and to allow children born out of mixed faith traditions to be baptized. What were his reasons for his statements then?
Turns out if we believe the activist Marcelo Márquez, who received a letter from the then cardinal, the Holy Father personally believes gays deserve equal rights and would push for support from the Argentinian Conference of Catholic Bishops for civil unions.
He lost that vote and according to his official biographer had to do his job as the mouthpiece of the group and attack the gays. Since the pontiff sets the teachings and the national conferences of bishops have to figure out how to teach it, now that he is Bishop of Rome he could send out an apostolic letter directing the bishops to curtail their attacks and push for more dignity and rights as the Church actually teaches about gays, (catechism para 2358) but we’d have to give him time to do it.
Remember he was primate of a country where not only was the Catholic Church the majority religion but the state religion, and he understood that gays needed protection.
Spain, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Argentina and Mexico are all now Catholic majority nations with marriage equality or soon to have it.
Now comes the idea of married or women priests. Women priests do not have a chance in hell although married priests might happen. Why you ask? Since the Venerable Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I lifted the joint excommunication, reunification of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Communion has been a priority Going as far as now both faiths allow communion, if no other church or priest can be found, and the current archbishop of New Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has made history twice in his tenure, once by attending the funeral mass of Pope Blessed John Paul II the first in 1,000 years and the inauguration of Pope Francis, the first time ever.
The East has married priests but celibate bishops and is strongly opposed to women priests. And since the Pope referred to the Patriarch as his brother Andrew (Peter preached in Rome, Andrew preached in Byzantium aka New Rome aka Constantinople aka Istanbul) in a meeting with other religious leaders he won’t do anything to upset that Communion. I could see him following fellow Argentinean Cardinal Sandri’s idea of allowing nuns power positions within the Roman Curia though.
Lastly, this is a man known for advocating for the least of his brothers as Jesus is said to have commanded in Matt 25:34-46, cooked for the poor, visited prisons and shuns the trappings of the Prince of the Church. Much like the State of Union is to the POTUS, his homily at his inauguration and his coat of arms laid out his agenda. His coat contains the phrase “Miserando atque eligendo,” Latin for “Having had mercy, he called him,” coming from an episode in the Gospel where Christ picks a seemingly unworthy person to follow him. He ended the homily with “Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service … he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.” Which I understood to mean that he seeks to take the Church back to the social justice roots my grandmother and great aunt tried to instill in me of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.
He isn’t going to be the complete change we long to see in the Church but I think he’ll be the catalyst and start rebuilding the foundation of a learning Church.
ERIC C HUFFORD
AKA SISTER IONA DUBBLE-WYDE
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