2.14.13 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshotDear Catholic Church:
As a non-Catholic, I can only imagine the tremendous feelings of fear and unrest you are experiencing in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI’s sudden retirement. Change, as you know, is not a practice the Church takes lightly and when it’s forced upon you, it’s only natural to resist. But popes have resigned before, and while the last occurrence was well before anyone presently on this planet existed, your institution adapted and survived those changes.

Change, as they say, can be good. The world is continuously evolving pardon the phrasing and so too must institutions that were created with the mission of offering spiritual guidance to the population of our planet.

For nearly 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has managed to remain relevant to so many in an ever-changing world. Small adaptations have helped maintain that relationship for many who follow the customs and practices of Catholicism. I won’t pretend to understand those changes nor will I pretend to understand a majority of the practices and nuances of your institution.

But today in 2013, you face an opportunity unlike any in the history of the Church. It has been more than six centuries since a living pope left his position as the most powerful and most recognized religious figure on the planet. Millions look to the figurehead of your denomination as a source of strength and maybe now, during this historic transitional period, is the time to look at the world with fresh eyes and a new perspective. One which makes more sense in this 21st Century reality you now find yourself.

Women, for example, are no longer confined to the back pews of society. They are teachers, presidents, leaders, CEOs and airline pilots. They are mothers, wives, chefs and elected officials. There is no denying that they are no longer secondary to the men of this planet.

They are a vital part of our survival on this shared planet and are also capable of making their own medical decisions. Doctors recognize there are institutions to address spiritual concerns. Maybe you can follow their example and understand there are specialists to address medical concerns.

Your flock is expansive, and includes people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. And, whether you want to admit to it or not, many of those followers are part of the LGBT community. Gay men, lesbians and bisexual Christians exist and were at one time children in Catholic Churches around the globe.

Many transgender individuals are also Christians and are also too often excluded from the spiritual practices of the Church, simply because of your organization’s lack of understanding and reliance on dated works of long-dead writers.

Like our heterosexual counterparts, many within our ranks have spiritual needs and beliefs that need to be satisfied. Consider how difficult it is to find that satisfaction when the spokesman of your denomination constantly spews rhetoric that directly attacks those seeking guidance, rather than spreading a message of love and acceptance from his pulpit overlooking Vatican City.

I am far from a Biblical scholar. My education on the matter is limited to Sunday School classes in a protestant environment as a child and as a leader of my high school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. But I am certain that singling out a large sect of those who’s spiritual beliefs are the same as yours runs directly counter to your mission. And constantly calling them outsiders is a sure way to lessen the strength of your institution.

A common phrase among religious leaders is, “God has a plan” or that “God works in mysterious ways.” So rather than criticizing those you don’t understand, embrace them as you move forward and offer strength in a way no other institution can.

The Church has made mistakes in the past and has accepted responsibility for those errors. Now is the time to do it again, at a moment in history that could literally change everything!

This could be the year the Catholic Church gets the reboot it has needed for far too long. By selecting an apolitical leader with an open mind and an attitude of acceptance and love, the Catholic Church will find a way to remain relevant in the 21st century and beyond.

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