Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What not to expect from the new Pope

The College of Cardinals, at least those 80 and under, are locked in the Sistine Chapel at this hour, praying and politicking over who will be the next leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

It's kind of exciting.

But it's not really important.

Let me explain.

I am, as many of you know, a church-going Catholic (whether I am a good Catholic is not for me to say). The religious order that served my home parish for over a century recently decided it could no longer staff our church, so we are about to get a new pastor assigned by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

From my perspective, that's far, far more important than who will become the next Prisoner of the Curia in Rome. I'll have to deal with the new pastor; at least, I'll have to sit through his sermons. Or, if things go really badly, I'll have to start looking around for a new parish.

The fella in the white cassock in Rome is not going to change things that much. The Catholic Church doesn't work that way. Glaciers zoom by comparison with Mother Church. The church will have rules requiring priestly celibacy for the foreseeable future; maybe they will be observed and enforced with greater rigor. The church will not suddenly ordain women as priests. The church will not change its teachings on abortion or birth control. Even if the new Pope is determined to make great changes, he will find he must move slowly... incrementally.

But the new man in our rectory is a long way from Rome. I hope he will be celibate -- but some priests are not. Some have girlfriends (or boyfriends) and some flaunt them. I hope our new pastor will be a good role model for children -- but some priests are predators. I hope he will be an honest, capable administrator -- but some priests steal with both fists. Others are such naifs that people around them can steal with both fists. I hope he will be open to the parishioners' ideas about how things should be run -- but some priests are pig-headed dolts who hear no one but themselves and do whatever they damn well please. It is already rumored that our six weekend Masses will be reduced to three or four at most. Our three weekday Masses will be cut to one or two. We will have only one priest, not two (only a few years ago we had three) and he won't be able to keep up the Mass schedule and do all the other things that must be done. How he does whatever he can do will have much more influence and impact on my life than anything that comes out of Rome.

We had a meeting in the parish a few months back where we could give some feedback to the archdiocesan authorities about what we'd like to see in a new pastor (unlike many Protestant churches, we do not choose our priests; they are assigned to us and we make the best of it). The good fathers who came to the very well-attended meeting were not surprised to hear the concerns we raised. "Basically," one of the priests told me after, "your parish wants Jesus Christ with an MBA. Well, guess what? We all want that."

I heard that same job description used in connection with what Catholics want in a new Pope, too.

So I'll tell you what: We'll let Jesus Christ with an MBA be the next Pope. For our new pastor, we'll settle for Bing Crosby in Going My Way.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

It is?

Well, pray for us.

1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i'm not so sure i agree curmy, i think the pope is one of the world leaders and the choice will matter to us all one way or another...

smiles, bee