In a new posting at his Christian Catholicism site, Jerry Slevin invites Catholics to dream about the impossible. As he notes, countering the idea that such dreams are "impractical," who dreamt that a "pope for life" would resign in the midst of the mess the Catholic church has made for itself at this point in history?
And did Jesus limit his dreams to the "practical"?
Jerry proposes 12 resolutions for Pope Francis if he really does want to fix the mess:
∙Protect children by holding bishops accountable.∙Protect children by restoring the age of First Confession to 13 years of age.∙Help abuse survivors financially and emotionally.∙Help couples by endorsing contraception.∙Help women by ordaining women as priests.∙Appoint women Cardinals.∙Recognize same sex marriages as holy.∙Encourage divorced and remarried Catholics to receive all the Sacraments.∙Have all bishops selected and retained only with the full consent of the Catholics they serve.∙Sell all excess Church assets and give the proceeds to the poor.∙End Church involvement in political campaigns.∙Infallibly declare that popes are always "fallible".
With regard to the question of naming women cardinals, Jerry notes that the Wall Street Journal has stated that Francis may name new cardinals as early as tomorrow. As he also points out, no less than the Vatican's Jesuit spokesman Father Lombardi has told The Irish Times that "theologically and theoretically, it is possible" for a pope to name a woman cardinal. As Jerry also reminds his readers, Jesuit Father Tom Reese has also stated that, according to canon law, a pope has "total freedom" to appoint whomever he wishes as a cardinal.
Why women cardinals? Here are some good reasons, in Jerry's view:
∙At least half a billion Catholics, women, know very well that a major reason for the unabated continuation of the priest child abuse scandal is men, in particular over a hundred celibate Cardinals. These men likely do not even know "how to change a nappy", as Mrs. Mary McAleese, the former Irish President recently so well put it.
∙Pope Francis really needs to invite as Cardinals some women and mothers, like Ireland’s "straight talking" leader, Mrs. Mary McAleese, and brave Illinois Justice Anne Burke, to become Cardinals in February, and then to attend October’s Final Synod. What is he waiting for?
As Jerry notes, the Catholic church finds itself in crisis now, and this crisis has led already to the resignation of one pope. "Pope Francis appears for many reasons to be the Vatican’s best and last chance to lead on initiating overdue Church changes." If Francis does not act and act decisively, it appears increasingly likely that the Catholic church simply will not weather the crisis that induced Francis's predecessor to resign.
I think Jerry's right on target about this.