NCR's new blog series "5 minutes with Francis" poses the question: If you managed to meet up with Pope Francis during his U.S. visit -- and you had his full, undivided attention for five minutes -- what would you say to him?
Richard and Jean Redmond:
We appreciate your efforts to emphasize Christ’s example in the Scriptures and stop dwelling on the rules and regulations of our religion. However, there is a big area that is being overlooked.
If Catholics are to continue having the Sacrifice of the Mass and receiving the Sacraments, we need priests. The church cannot continue with a diminishing number of priests. Instead of responding by closing church after church, we need to face up to the ways that this impossible situation can change. Deacons and nuns are helpful for relieving priests from some of their work, but their role is too limited to answer the real needs of Catholics.
Vocations still exist and the Holy Spirit is inspiring people to serve. It is the church leadership which refuses to consider the possibilities. Some previous popes didn’t even want the subject to be brought up unfortunately.
Another group of obvious candidates are those religious sisters and other women and men who are already prepared by their studies; some are already working for the church. Further preparation would not require extended time to complete. Among this group could also be those deacons who have the ability and desire to continue preparation for the priesthood. These two groups would be a good start to increase the availability of priests or ministers adequate enough to meet the needs of the church. Of course, church policy on a married clergy would have to change and the prohibition against women priests would also have to be set aside.
Making celibacy an optional choice and allowing women to serve would open the door to increased seminarians studying for the priesthood, to priests who prefer a different option and to women willing to obtain adequate preparation. It would also attract many more young people to the priesthood than are choosing the priesthood at the present time.
What would you say during five minutes with Pope Francis? Pick one subject, and send us a brief note (300-400 words max) about the subject, and what you would say. Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.