Monday, March 25, 2013
Although I'm an Episcopalian, not a Roman Catholic, I am certainly interested in what takes place at the Vatican. Habemus Papam, and he has chosen to be known as "Pope Francis". (I have seen him described as "Francis I", but this is incorrect. Only when a second pope chooses that name will it be appropriate to describe recently elected pope as "Francis I".) It is refreshing to have a pope who seems to be more concerned with the poor than with protecting the church's priests. We shall see what develops, and it is interesting that he is the first Jesuit to be elected pope. That Order is widely considered to be the most liberal of the many RC Orders. However, Pope Francis is definitely one of the more conservative Jesuits; if he were not, he would not have been elected. Once elected, a pope has considerable independence and it may well be that Francis will provide a more balanced Curia and (eventually) College of Cardinals. For an alternative view of the pope, please check out: http://www.monbiot.com/2013/03/18/cardinal-sins/ What I do not expect to see in what remains of my lifetime is a complete liberalization of thinking at the Vatican. I believe that American observers' hope that women will be able to become priests is very unlikely. There already are a number of priests who have been married, although they are expected to remain celibate. Some of those are former Anglicans, who have become members of the so-called "Ordinariates". I believe that some widowers have also been ordained to the priesthood. In my eyes, it has always seemed strange that men expected to counsel married couples have supposedly had no sexual experience. (It is an open secret that many heterosexual and gay priests have had varying degrees of such experience, but that has not been in accordance with official doctrine.) My guess is that the rule of celibacy is more likely to be relaxed at some future date than will be the opening of women to the priesthood.