What’s this? Good religious news to report? I am as shocked as you are.
The Catholic Church as an institution has been a mechanism for propagating or protecting great evil for at least as long as I have been alive. This repugnant nastiness goes all the way up to the head of the church. I am sure at the parish level there are some good, caring people trying to make a difference in their community, but at the bishop level and above it becomes impossible to tell the good from the bad because the bad is overwhelmingly visible and active. I don’t need to repeat the institution’s sins here. You know what they are. They are still ever-present. But there is a ray of light.
That ray of light is Pope Francis. The man is on a tear since being elected and is pissing off all the right people. Wait, that should be capitalized. He is pissing off all the Right people. Yeah, that’s right, Hippy Jesus has a friend in the Pope. He’s bashing trickle-down economics. He’s saying inequality is something that needs to be addressed. He’s eschewing the material excesses that go with the title. He’s washing Muslim’s feet. He’s kissing grossly deformed men he meets on the street. He’s asking who he is to judge homosexuals. Think about that. The Pope. The man who supposedly has the power to speak for god. Saying that HE is not in a position to judge. In other words, the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics for the first time I can remember is actually acting all Jesus-y.
Up to this point, though, he’s still been mostly talking the talk without walking the walk. The institution itself is still in need of a major teardown and rebuilding and he’s not done much to fix that yet. There are some signs that is about to change. It’s small, but the committee that helps find bishop candidates has been restructured and there is a noticeably missing cog. Cardinal Raymond Burke has been kicked off of that committee. You may remember him as being the very vocal anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage cardinal that famously called for John Kerry being denied the sacrament of communion during the 2004 election cycle. He’s also been vocally critical of Francis. It’s a small step and Burke’s still on other committees, but he is no longer able to wield influence on choosing the next leaders in the church. That’s not nothing. Here’s hoping there’s more where that came from.