I admired, respected, and loved Blessed Pope John XXIII. He was my idea of a true leader of the Catholic Church. He was famous for ushering in the Second Vatican II Council-- hoping to bring fresh air into a church that badly needed it. Sadly, he didn't live to see his reforms instituted. And I don't believe that the two Popes who followed him tried or even wanted to institute them.
Pope Francis has declared him a saint based on his merits of opening the Second Vatican Council --thereby bypassing the traditionally required second miracle. Both he and John Paul II are expected to be canonised by the end of 2013.
I believe that Pope Francis seems to be of the same ilk as the roly poly John XXIII. For a certainty, his style is winning many hearts. I can't tell you the surprise and happiness I experienced when I found out that he had chosen the name Francis. I only pray that he will try to live up to the charismas and legacies of this beautiful and compassionate saint.
It seems to me that the Franciscan Order has not embraced Francis' love and concern for ALL God's creatures, which includes the animals. Whether Pope Francis will is yet to be seen, but I have genuine hope that he will.
FATHER HELMUT SCHULLER OF AUSTRIA COMES TO CLEVELAND
This past week I was delighted to learn that Father Helmut Schuller of Austria had given a talk to 150 attentive but basically subdued listeners at the Cleveland City Club. I so admired him for doing this because, in my opinion, Cleveland is basically conservative in their views. However, this was his second talk in the area. The night before this, the 6 0-year- old priest had addressed 500 people in Independence, Ohio.
He was invited to a three-week, 15-city tour in the United States sponsored by 10 U.S. liberal Catholic reform groups, which included Lakewood-based FutureChurch. Sr. Chritine Schenk is the executive director of FutureChurch and she said she supports Schuller's message because it contains the same issues her group and the other liberal organizations believe in.
Schuller's message is called "The Catholic Tipping Point." The Austrian priest told the Cleveland City Club audience that while female priests, married priests, and same-sex marriage tolerance may not be compatible with the present Roman Catholic church's teachings, these reformations to church doctrine are possible solutions for the growing priest shortage.
He will not be visiting either Detroit or Boston because sadly both have banned him from their Catholic churches. How disappointing that Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley who was born in Lakewood, a suburb of Cleveland, rejected Schuller because he said his beliefs oppose the church's doctrines. In my opinion, he has so little vision and concern for people becaue he fails to see the need to incorporate new doctrines as the Spirit moves.
I am very happy that Schuller had not been banned in Cleveland. I hope that he has sparked some serious thinking on the issues he has raised here and in the other cities where he will speak.
Of his talk Sr. Christine Schenk reflected: "We have many men and women called to priesthood, but they're denied because they're married, they want to have a family, or they are women. There's no shortage of vocations, but we have a shortage of vision."
At this juncture, I would have reminded the audience that the Byzantine Catholics had married priests and also raised families. My sisters and I were baptised by a married priest who had a daughter.
As for women priests - up until the 16th century there had been women deaconesses. They should never have disbanded this beautiful calling.
The reporter of the Cleveland Plain Dealer did not give us a general feeling of how the talk went-- which, in my opinion, was like a much- needed blast of fresh air. Were the attendees receptive and ready for his call to reform?
I admired him for taken on this subject, which should b e embraced by a church that claims to follow Jesus Christ. I think it all boils down to how we perceive Jesus. Do we see Him embracing a male-dominated church that refuses to budge an inch from their conservative views?
Do we see Him condoning the heavy hand of church leaders last year-- accusing the Sisters of trying to undermine the church with their social concerns for the poor instead of helping them with their conservative agenda. Strange. They give no positions of authority to the Sisters who have dedicated their lives to Christ as have they, but expect them to walk lock-step with their agendas.
I wish Father Helmut Schuller much success in his compassionate endeavors. We do need to here from people of faith like him who are working to address the needs of the church that embraces all the followers of Jesus Christ.