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?
We as Catholics do not believe that scripture should be read literally but in fact it appears that many of our priests seem to do that in practice. There are hundreds of scriptural passage that we ignore, such as stoning an adulterer, not touching pigskin and so forth. Quite simply, they were written and interpreted for a particular time and place in life. It seems to me that the same can be said for the rules regarding marriage, sex, divorce and homosexuality, yet these are today’s “stoning laws." In addition, there is no scriptural reference including or excluding women priests but the exclusion in our church seems to come from a male dominated society. Jesus seems to have been overtly against a male dominated society and clearly inclusive of all.
Having said this, I think it is about time that the church gather the top theologians from around the world and do a scriptural exegesis of the entire Bible. There are laws that say we can’t wear more than one type of fabric for our clothes, don’t cut your hair or shave, we are asked to stone those who commit adultery or kill all the inhabitants of cities that worship a different god. We fail to enforce these and brush them off yet when we read laws about marriage, divorce, women priests (not mentioned in the bible) they are “God’s immutable truth.”
The church can’t bury her head in the sand and expect us to follow blindly. We have a saying here in the United States that refers to many of us as “cafeteria Catholics”; meaning we pick and choose what we want to believe. That may be so, but it is clear to us that the clergy act in the same manner and with righteous indignation. And this righteous indignation is destroying our church.
While a scriptural exegesis will not solve all the issues, it will open up God’s word for us to new and continued revelation. It is in this exegesis that the whole world, not just a few ordained men can really begin to develop a better and more beautiful understanding of His word. This exegesis needs to have many lay people and many people of different faiths involved to reset the floor of what is in the Bible. Not everything can necessarily be defined and answered but we can try to help everyone understand that scripture is not laid out as the laws that govern our lives for us to follow blindly. Christ spoke several times of those that followed the laws yet would not enter the Kingdom of God.
From Corinthians: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."
As of today, this is where the Catholic church seems to be. The Western world is losing Catholics in droves. While there are many reasons, I believe that it is because we do not have love. We do not have love because the clergy/church are trying to control the laity and will not listen to the sensus fidelium. We are all God’s church. Let us join together, clergy and laity, the build the kingdom of God.
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.