«Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum… habemus papam!»
At five past seven on March 13th 2013, the Vatican elected their new pope. White smoke doomed out of the world’s most famous chimney and the 76-year old Argentinean Jorge Mario Bergoglio accepted his leadership over the Catholic Church. At 8 ‘o clock he then was announced as pope ‘Fransiscus I’, a name that has never been chosen by a pope.
The name Franciscus goes back to Franciscus of Assisi, the founder of the religious order of the Franciscans who devoted their life to support the poor and live like Christ himself. One might see this name as revolutionary, but is this enough to gain back the lost popularity that the Catholic Church suffered from, especially in Europe?
Anno 2013 we can explain where we, people, come from, what we are made of and where the earth itself came from. Science has thought us a great deal, and young people tend to no longer need religion. But all these questions were unanswered when over 2000 years ago, the Catholic Church was instituted. One might say religion has thus lost its main goal and that it is outdated. But the Catholic Church also stands for other values, who are far from outdated, for example brotherhood and love thy neighbor. But if Catholicism wishes to keep on proclaiming these values, it is necessary to update their bible and make founded changes so that young people are again willing to endeavor Christ’s love.
Three major issues tend to keep on being stumbling blocks for the Catholics: homosexuality, celibacy and condoms. These are admittedly hard to glue with Catholic foundations, but there is a solution.
First of all, homosexuality. Although same-sex people are not per se discriminated by the Catholic Church, for example no one says they can’t enter into priesthood (that is if they swear celibacy), they are discriminated in such a way that God does not approve their love, so a Catholic marriage is out of the question. They also are frowned upon when adopting children, as this is (and here we quote the new pope, Franciscus I) “Discrimination of children”. But as homosexuality is nowadays more and more common, isn’t an incorporation of gays inevitable? If we briefly look at history, one can almost see a similar story when it comes to black people. At first they were viewed upon as second-class citizens for a very long time, now there are even black cardinals. 200 years ago, this seemed out of the question, when quotes like “Man must not create equal those whom God created unequal” were common courtesy. But today the Catholic Church has adjusted their position on black people, and inevitably the same thing will happen with homosexuals.
Secondly, let’s talk about celibacy. It’s safe to state that this has been the biggest problem the Catholics had to deal with the past years. The fact that one of man’s basic needs is taken from him, can only lead to the problems we see surfacing today. Yes, child abuse has caused the Catholics a major loss of believers. Many have expressed criticism on the way the old pope dealt with this problem, but thus the question remains: how we can resolve such a delicate issue? Celibacy has its roots in the story of Adam and Eve. There, Eve was seduced by the snake to bite in the apple, with was forbidden by God. Ergo, a woman is untrustworthy and sly and has no other intention than to seduce man. This logic seems perfectly plausible, until children enter the picture. Children are God’s gift and need to be raised in the best way possible, and who better for the job then a woman, according to the holy bible. How can it be that, according to bible logic, one can let God’s gift be raised by a sly and unreliable person? This in fact undermines the premise that women are not to be trusted, so why not abolish celibacy (and perhaps prevent further child abuse)?
Lastly, the condom issue. Why is the Catholic Church against something, which has proven to save many lives? Well, the roots of this opposition can once again be found in history. Sex, according to the Church is something that can only serve for the purpose of having children and can in no way be seen as a recreational activity. This once was a very good rule, as poor girls who were not yet married otherwise ended up with unwanted children whom they couldn’t provide the care for. But in our modern age, this is another relic that has lost its purpose. Even worse, it has become a harmful rule rather than one that benefits mankind. When having unprotected sex today, this can lead to major problems such as STD’s and Aids and consequentially claiming not to use condoms is actually maleficent.
All in one it seems that all these delicate 21st century issues can be glued with Catholic belief and thus make this institution popular again, passing on the values that really matter in life. Catholicism might have been overpassed? for this generation, especially in Europe, but throughout the world many people still need something greater to live for. And if the Catholic Church wishes to remain that something, some major changes can no longer be put off. Hopefully this challenge will be taken up by the new pope, making this institution again what it used to be and giving hope to those in need. Amen.