It's that time of year again, when we dream dreams for the new year ahead ... even impossible dreams ... and pray that they come true.
So, what about 2016? What might a good, progressive, feminist Catholic hope for? Pray for?
First, I'd love to see Pope Francis have a "revelation" when it comes to the equality of women in the church. He's been great on so many issues -- a preferential option for the poor, urging peace, speaking out forcefully on climate change. But one major "hole" in his message has to do with women. He just does not seem to "get" it (or us!) So, in 2016... I dream that he might see the light and begin to advocate gender equality in the church. Maybe that could come from an encounter with a poor woman who explains how gender discrimination led her into the poverty she now endures. Or maybe he could have a "sit down" seminar with prominent feminist and womanist theologians. Or maybe an apparition from Mary of Nazareth. (OK! This is a "dream!") I'll take whatever works.
Second -- not to dwell on Pope Francis -- but he is a popular guy with a lot of influence these days. So, I also dream that he might change church policies on LGBTQ Catholics. Granted, he has made steps toward welcoming them in the church ("Who am I to judge?"... etc.). And while 2016 may be a bit early for him to change his views on same-sex marriage, he could make clear that he does not agree with firing personnel in Catholic institutions because of their orientation, or because they married someone of the same sex. These discriminatory firings have become a major scandal.
Third, while I'm focused on Pope Francis, 2016 could be the year when he tells divorced and remarried Catholics that they may receive communion. (I just wish my Aunt Marian were alive to hear it!) And while he's at it, he might begin the process of admitting married men to the priesthood. (Rumor has it that he favors that change; so maybe it will come in 2016; we've waited for a return of the married priesthood for centuries now!)
We say: Charlottesville reveals the weeping wound of racism. What do we, the American Catholic faith community, do next? Read the editorial.
Fourth, I dream that Catholic parishes and religious communities will become leaders in "greening" the structures of the church. It would be great to see Catholic churches, monasteries and religious communities take the lead installing solar panels on their roofs or wind turbines on their lands. And while they're at it, Catholic leaders (yes, bishops, I'm looking at you!) might speak out against "climate deniers" and make action to save Planet Earth a priority.
Fifth, I dream that Catholic leaders -- clergy and laity alike -- will launch a major campaign to stifle religious bigotry in the United States, especially Islamophobia. Let us stand together proudly with Muslims -- and those of other faith traditions -- and make good interfaith relations a reality in 2016.
One could dream on, but sometimes it starts feeling like living in outer space! However, without dreams, there is no launch and no landing, especially in 2016. A blessed New Year to everyone!