|If this snapshot of the pope arriving at JFK NY after meeting Pres.Obama, does not tell you who this man is then nothing will. For this site to put a pope in its pages on a positive note also tell us a lot.|
[ Ozy Authors:Viva el papa]
He came from the slums of Buenos Aires, and now his flock is the whole wide world: This week, Pope Francis visits the United States, his popemobile snarling traffic all over the Eastern seaboard. Would Francis have wanted such a fuss? Likely not. Francis cultivates a winningly humble persona — a pope for the people.
The Pope, a Piketty-ian?
Within months of his moving to the Vatican, Francis was railing not just against inequality and poverty, but also against the global economic order itself. At its heart was a new idolatry, he said, of money, and its result was exclusion and a growing gap between rich and poor. Indeed, Francis’ November 2013 Apostolic Exhortation presaged a growing worldwide interest in combating economic inequality — a banner taken up shortly afterward by President Obama, Thomas Piketty and a host of others. Read more here.
|Past Popes’ car when traveling|
Ideological Heirs Already
Francis also has his ideological heirs — among them, Carlos Osoro, the new Vatican appointee to the Madrid Archdiocese. He is liberal and chummy with his followers, even by warm Spanish standards, and (gasp!) he ignores protocol. Por ejemplo: During the oft-pompous processions in the Almudena Cathedral adjacent to the Royal Palace, he is the only one out of two dozen priests who smiles and throws benevolent Catholic gang signs to his flock, while the rest carry themselves regal and solemn. All of this in Madrid, a spot that has historically set trends for Spain and Latin America and influenced the direction of the church. Read more here.
But Can He Shatter the Church’s Glass Ceiling?
Pope Francis is trying to remake the world in different ways — from making it easier to get marriage annulments to brokering a relationship between the U.S. and Cuba — but one big question remains for the Pope of the people: Will we see women admitted to the priesthood during his papacy? A young German woman named Jacqueline Straub has been urging the pope along in that direction. It won’t be easy. Not only has the Roman Catholic Church specifically outlawed the possibility of women becoming priests, but it has also banned even discussing it formally. Read more here.
That giant Achilles heel on the Catholic Church? Yeah, she’s shaped like a woman.
There is no denying that the humble Pope Francis has changed some people’s opinions of the Catholic Church for the better, but for many in the Western world, there’s still the question of female equality in the Vatican. Namely, why can’t women be priests, too?
Pope Francis is touching the doorknob to see how hot the fire is on the other side.
Pope Francis has made a big point of repeatedly stating how important it is that women become leaders and decision makers in the Catholic Church and how Catholics need a deeper theology of women. He even pointed out that “Mary is more important than the apostles.” But some see that as lip service when combined with how he has made it abundantly clear that women cannot be ordained. The Sistine Chapel’s got nothing on that glass ceiling up there.
“With regards to the ordination of women, the church has spoken and says no,” said Francis while returning from Brazil. ”Pope John Paul [II] said so with a formula that was definitive. That door is closed.”
Robert McClory, a contributing writer to the National Catholic Reporter , says it is interesting how guarded Francis is being with his language, cautiously pinning it on John Paul II. “The door is closed and it’s locked,” says McClory. “But the pope can open the door, if he wanted to. He’s got the keys.”
So what gives? How is the pope going to enact change? S-l-o-w-l-y. (We are talking the Catholic Church here, remember?)
“People say, ’Well, he’s not ordaining women, so therefore this is all irrelevant.’ I don’t think it is irrelevant,” says Lisa Cahill, a theology and ethics professor at Boston College and author of Sex, Gender & Christian Ethics . Cahill explains that what the pope is doing reflects a more ”holistic cultural shift within the Catholic Church.” He’s not changing official Catholic laws, but he’s changing customs, expectations and what’s seen as acceptable. Similar to how he’s transforming his bishops .
Perhaps Francis is serving women through his focus on global poverty and hunger. Is that enough?
What this entails is talking about women’s role in the Church and gathering people’s thoughts, or possibly appointing women to roles where traditionally there haven’t been women before. ”I think he’s testing the waters to see how are people reacting to some of these things,” says McClory.
He’s touching the doorknob to see how hot the fire is on the other side.
And he may be weighing global concerns, suggests Cahill : While women’s ordination is of high importance to Catholics in America and the Western world, where women are seen as equals, that isn’t the case in a majority of other countries where Catholicism exists.
Theology professor Alice L. Laffey makes a similar point in her op-ed, saying: ”Throughout the world, women and their children make up the greatest percentage of human beings living in destitution. Their main concern is not women priests but food, health, education and physical safety. Francis’ genuine concern for the real lives of the poor and suffering warmly embraces women.” In other words, Francis is serving women through his focus on global poverty and hunger.
Is that enough? Wouldn’t it be better if more substantive, concrete official change could happen, like making a woman a cardinal (not going to happen ) or perhaps following in the footsteps of the early Catholic age and allowing female deacons? Of course it would be. In fact, Francis so often talks about the “service” of women that more than a few Church observers have noted it might be a hint at a possible (distant) future for women to become deacons, the title of which is derived from the Greek diakonos , meaning “servant.”
For now, though, Catholics have to settle for slow, subtle shifts, which, to give Francis credit, are already occurring. U.S. Cardinal Sean O’Malley recently said he and his colleagues are ”anxious to have more laypeople involved, particularly more women in positions of responsibility at the Vatican.”
Many lay or religious women are already stepping up to minister in place of a nonexistent resident priest.
Continued rhetoric from Francis and his cardinals about the importance of women will help make it less startling to see women in leadership roles, a shift which was under way even before Francis’ papacy. And while his call for a deeper theology of women indicates that he understands that the Church’s doctrine on women’s roles is out of step, his experience as a pastor has shown him that women are already running day-to-day operations of churches, religious schools, parishes and social-service organizations.
“If you walk into any parish office on a given day, if you were to snap your fingers and remove the female presence from there, nothing would [get done],” says Jesuit Post editor Timothy O’Brien. “Most of the places that I’ve worked as a Jesuit that are ministries of the Church, it’s run by women.” He says that female leadership is certainly missing at the highest levels, so that is where the conversation tends to focus. Along with many other Church observers, O’Brien argues that a priest shortage is exposing an even greater need for service in the Church — and many laywomen are already stepping up to minister in place of a nonexistent resident priest.
Such a shift in women’s leadership in the Catholic Church matters, especially to the future health of the Church. As Cahill says, having more women leaders would change the atmosphere. “There is a culture in this country around equality and an expectation of it,” says Cahill. “Because that isn’t as much reflected in the Church it turns women off, especially younger women.” Changing the conversation and the mindset of the Catholic Church’s view on women will attract more women, keep them in the church, and create an environment where women’s leadership is acceptable and expected.
It’s about time we started asking: What would Mary do?