Church must evolve
To the Journal editor:
Like many lifelong Catholics, I was heartened by Pope Francis' recent comment that "if someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"
Although the pope was referencing gay priests, I along with others feel that he was referring to gay people in general. The Pope's statement affirmed what much of society including many of us who are Catholic have long believed- that a gay person like everyone else is a child of God and should be treated with respect, dignity, and equality.
I am hopeful that Pope Francis' position on this issue is the first of several progressive and overdue steps that could make my church, the Catholic Church, more accepting, and yes better and more relevant.
Specifically I am hoping the church will move to:
Accept women as equals by including them throughout the church as priests, in leadership positions, and in the hierarchy.
Women represent 50 percent of the population and they have demonstrated leadership acumen and ability in most every arena that at least equals that of men.
Leadership studies find women to be more empathetic, flexible, inclusive, collaborative, possessive of better interpersonal skills and more adept at building consensus, skills that could only enhance the church. We cannot afford to continue ignoring a resource of this magnitude.
Reverse the church's 900-year-old mandate that priests lead a celibate life. It is not hard to imagine that this would result in more and better candidates being attracted to the priesthood and it would also keep him or her in touch with the challenges of family life.
Rethink its position on birth control. Accessible birth control has already proven to significantly reduce the number of teen-age pregnancies.
Family planning is critical to reducing poverty, allowing women to live up to their full potential, and reducing the number of neglected children.
I realize that these are significant and to some degree monumental changes for the Catholic Church to consider.
I am encouraged by the first step that Pope Francis has taken in making the church more inclusive and I am hoping that others will follow. I am confident they would lead to a more joyful, meaningful and significant church.