Yes, This Is A Pastoral Revolution: Your Thoughts

Readers react to the big news of the week:

Perhaps to see where Francis is going, you should also consider the homily he gave Monday morning prior to the release of the Relatio:

This picture taken 21 March 2007 shows a“The scholars of the law also forgot that the people of God are a people on a journey, and when you journey, you always find new things, things you never knew before,” he said. But the journey, like the law, is not an end in itself; they are a path, “a pedagogy,” toward “the ultimate manifestation of the Lord. Life is a journey toward the fullness of Jesus Christ, when he will come again.” The law teaches the way to Christ, and “if the law does not lead to Jesus Christ,” he said, “and if it doesn’t get us closer to Jesus Christ, it is dead.”

Read the whole thing, it’s beautiful and very telling of where Papa Bergoglio is trying to take the church. It also is perhaps one of the best critiques of the modern understanding of natural law. Natural law does not evolve (so yes, the conservatives are right in one respect), but we’re on a journey and God reveals more of himself and his law to us on this journey.

I’m with you, Andrew; I cried tears of joy when I saw the Relatio, and burst to tears again upon reflecting upon the homily preached only hours before. But it’s going to be an uphill battle, and already the knives are drawn from certain prelates, especially the outspoken probably soon-to-be-former Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura – Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.

A small dissent:

I think you’re too harsh when it comes to JP2 and Benedict.  JP2 came at a time when there was utter confusion.  He had to clarify teaching.  Benedict is an intellectual, a theologian.  Francis is at heart a pastor.  Can’t we appreciate different leadership attributes and characteristics?

Another dissent of sorts:

I wish I could be as excited about Pope Francis as you are, but as a woman who has been serving as organist in a very large Catholic parish for 1 1/2 years, I am actually losing enthusiasm and feeling left out.

I know that the LGBT community deserves this attention.  The issue is hot; it is smart to talk about it now.  I also believe it is heartfelt on Pope Francis’s part – after all, he has spent most of his life amongst men, many of whom are gay, so his direct experience has given him much to ponder and work out in his own mind.  (Ditto the bishops)

I understand that all revolutions can’t happen at once, e.g. it seems to be common thought that priests will be allowed to marry before the revolution of women being allowed to serve in diaconate or priesthood.  OK great, and I totally think priests should be allowed to marry; but here again, it is men before women.

Having had no prior experience with the Catholic church and being very excited to have started my tenure at the time of the new pope, I am sorry to say that I’ve come to see that women are indeed second-class citizens in the Catholic church.  They are there to serve the men.  OK, we are all here to serve humanity, but since the Church is a male hierarchy, that means the women serve the men.  I see it all over the place and am sick of the dynamic.

Having said my sour-grapes piece, I do honor that this is an exciting time for you as a gay Catholic, and I am truly happy for you in that.

Another draws attention to what Benedict’s right-hand man is up to:

The Synod is entering its second week, and as a cradle Catholic, I’ve been watching it as closely as possible.  I was born and brought up after Vatican II, and I understand only too well the reasons why Pope Francis called this Synod and what he hopes to achieve from it.

To be frank, I was touched by the Pirolas’ testimony about the gay son of their friends.  My late sister had a childhood friend who is gay and who is so well-loved he is like a brother to me.  You can imagine how upset I was by Cardinal Burke’s statements, and I don’t wonder why he was roundly criticized. I wonder, though, have you heard about Arch. Ganswein’s interview with Chi? He’s saying that same things Cardinal Burke says about homosexuals being “intrinsically disordered”, and he even said that nothing much would change after the Synod. How different from Pope Francis’ very merciful declaration “Who am I to judge?”

I try to follow Church-related news as best I can, and it really distresses me that for a long time now, Archbishop Ganswein says so many things that contradict Pope Francis’s direction for the Church. Now, there’s this interview with Chi, and right smack in the middle of the Synod.

Another reflects:

My brother died last month. He lived in Sullivan County, New York, and attended a parish run by Franciscans. At his funeral, the pastor made some remarks that turned around my whole concept of the Church, which I’ve stayed away from except for family weddings and funerals for decades.

Father acknowledged and was very harsh about the message of the Church in recent times. He talked about how we were all looked on as sinners first, last, and only. He was very plain that he found this approach wrong, damaging, and in need of reversal. He then went on to speak about my brother (who was a devoted parishioner) in a way that highlighted John’s humanity, devotion, and grace. I was filled with happiness that John had had this man as his priest, as my brother had a touch life and relied heavily on his faith.

I’m sad to report that a day after the funeral the priest suffered a stroke. He was already frail; deacons performed most of the Mass while Father sat to the side. I haven’t had a report on his condition lately, but I hope that he is recovering.

I regret that in my rejection of Catholicism as I learned it (and as a gay man, as I experienced its rejection of me), I didn’t understand the fullness of a spiritual life possible in some corners of the Church, a fullness that my brother lived.

My lesson from this is to not think I know what is in a person’s heart or mind, or what comprises their faith, until I’ve taken the time to speak with them and hear them. I never spoke to my brother about these things; I just assumed what his mindset was from the fact of his strong faith. My loss, now, but hopefully not in the future.

(Photo by Getty)