When I was a kid I remember going to church. I think Christians, despite their current commitment or denomination, remember how impossible it was to sit still in church. It got easier through repetition and maturity. Once you got to be about eight or nine, we all started to pay attention and things got easier. After all, the whole mass was a story with a moral. Say what you will, interpreted correctly the Bible (or Torah, Koran or any other theocratic tome) truly is a great tool to learn from and apply to your life. It teaches lessons.
But as the world has taken leaps and bounds from the “god-fearing” people we once were the whole concept of church can seem a little archaic. That, however, is not an issue to be tackled now. Do I sound like a lapsed Catholic? Well, I guess I could be termed that way. I believe in God. I believe in the teachings in the Bible. Do I follow them to the letter? No, because to err is human and I am very human.
The Catholic Church is not what it used to be. The good intentions are there and there are a lot of good priests and parishioners left, but the scandals and politics get in the way. It has been like that for too long. The messages and teachings in the Bible are weighed down and drowned out by the structure and unadapted rules of the church. That is what causes people like me to drift away from attending mass every Sunday (heck, even every day… that is how it used to be).
I say all this with even after going down to see Pope Benedict XVI take his Mercedes Popemobile on a spin through D.C. Timed perfectly for lunchtime in the district on Wednesday, thousands of people gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue to see the 5-mile-an-hour joyride in the North West. With my shaken dedication to the church, why did I bother?
I went because he is the Pope. He is the No. 1 on Earth, so the Bible says, to talk to God. He is the main cheese. The “Rice-patty daddy from Cincinnati” as a close friend would say. Now, what is wrong with that is that anybody can talk to God. That is just how it is. Whatever your faith, whatever deity(s) you may pledge allegiance too, you are always open to offer a prayer anytime, unless specified that they only take prayers via fax between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST.
He is the visible leader of Catholics around the world. That means, and has meant, that he has a lot of sway. Now more than ever, the Pope has a lot of power. Back in the day kings had to literally go to Rome (or send ambassadors) to ask permission to go to war. That is how much influence he, and in one time she, wielded.
These days, the position of Pope still has power, but why is it not exercised as in the past? We can thank the good old U.S.A. for setting a precedent there. I am not demeaning the separation of church and state, but once that philosophy began to be adopted in developed nations, the Pope and the Catholic Church lost a lot of power.
The word power brings some bad connotations too. Read 1984, or watch Spider-man… “With great power comes great responsibility.” As I have learned in the working world, as much change as you want to enact, we are mired down in the red tape and the same principle applies to the Catholic Church. There are too many factions pulling too many ways to really create change and please everybody. Isn’t that always the case?
Accountability lies in the first hand. When there is a scandal in the church like sexual abuse, the whole entity gets the blame from the parish, to the archdiocese all the way to the Vatican. They should be held accountable, but the standards imposed, by Vatican law are unrealistic in today’s world and even in the past.
There was a time when priests could be married. Thanks to economic cutbacks, Rome decided way back when to take that right away. Priests were then expected to live by the same rules of divinity that Jesus (supposedly) lived by because the church did not want to pay for the priests’ families.
I will skip the church’s rulings on women becoming priests, birth control, homosexuality and Monty Python, but it what I am getting at is the church needs to change and the Pope has the power to do it.
Evolution, a fact if not for the scientific fallacy that things can only be disproved, dictates that the “most fit” survive. The church is not in danger of dying, but can’t it become more fit? It could, but again, the Catholic Church will only appoint a Pope who is not long for this world. Politely put, they will only make a guy the Pope who does not have the years left on his life to really start some progressive change. The bureaucracy of the Catholic Church is taking away any chance it has for change.
The good that faith and religion, practiced the correct way, can give the world is endless. The potential energy for compassion, peace and love that Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and any other “ism” based on their common values is enough for people in this world to get along. Can you imagine it?
I can imagine it. The problem, people can just be jerks. They don’t listen and will ignore all the teachings they dole out if it does not fall rank and file with what they think is right. Teaching is in the hands of the establishment and application is in the hands of the individuals.
Pope Benedict has the power to make change. Every Pope has had that power on the grand scale. They can make that change for the better. With out that type of change things are in our hands. It is up to us to go out there and live by the Golden Rule. That was in the Bible too, right? Until that happens, you will probably only catch me in church at Christmas, Easter, one of the dozens of weddings I am being subjected too, or just when I want some free wine.
Why did I go out of my way to see the Pontiff? Why do most Catholics do things? I felt guilty. And for goodness sakes… HE IS THE FREAKING POPE!