The first time I read about this I had a moment of extreme, hope-filled glee. In accordance to the rules of the Catholic Church, based on a promise from Jesus to Peter, the Pope does not have the possibility of error because his decisions are from Divine Revelation.
What better way for a good man to be elected to this position, and with the power of never making an error, change his Church from the inside? You can see what a hopeful thing this could actually be!
Sadly, there are enough footnotes to this that make it almost impossible for any Pope to create any grand changes within the Church. The main one being the Papal revelation must be based on, and cannot contradict, Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
So technically, the Divine Spirit of our Lord can work through you as a Pope, as long as that Divine Spirit doesn’t do anything that contradicts the laws and decisions that were created by man. Yes, you read that right. God, the all-powerful, can only send messages through the God-appointed head of the Church, as long as that message does not contradict what the leaders of that Church have decided what God’s wishes are beforehand.
To simplify, it actually says that the one you worship, has no actual power over how you worship. In a way God is actually like a parent who is being forced to watch their children make horrible mistakes, all while being unable to make their voice heard. The whole ‘our Father’ thing is more on the nose than we may have originally considered.
But there is a loophole, in a way. It allows the Pope, as the ‘shepherd’ and ‘teacher’ of all the members, to “define a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church.” Does that mean he can change things within the church? Not really. But what it does allow for is confusion. And it appears what the Catholic Church could do with right now, is a little confusion. A shaking up of the old-world order, a poking at the status quo with a stick, if you will.
For a Pope to state that he believes the Church he leads needs to, oh I don’t know, give women positions of power, allow gays to attend openly, use condoms, allow abortion in some cases (or any other incredibly non-Catholic craziness, though we all know the powers-that-be would never even consider such things), the discussion would begin. What would happen is that since the Pope is the ‘image’ of the Church for its followers (the Celebrity portion of the Vatican, if you will), it would allow the rest of us to stand up and cheer for a man who has decided to risk his station (and probably his life), to force the Church to at least consider moving into the 20th Century. I realize it’s the 21st Century, but let’s not get carried away, it IS the Catholic Church after all.
We could call it Divine Dialogue. And it’s something that the School of Cardinals, when they gather in that room, are probably more aware of than anything else. Their job is all about putting a man in charge who will not rock the boat and will not cause Catholics, around the world, to question the intelligence of those who are leading them to Salvation.
It’s a tall order.
It would take an amazing individual to stand up and say ‘As your Pope, our Church WILL tackle the molestation issue once and for all, an issue that has nearly destroyed our credibility around the world’. Or ‘This church WILL tackle the issue of celibacy, which is something that was not even a concern for decades, as even Pope’s were once married’.
You can bet your ass that those Cardinals, in that room, were very careful in making sure they selected a man who would never put their Church in the line of fire that way. But (and this is a big but because it might ask some of you to suspend your disbelief for a moment), what if there IS a God? What if there IS Divine Intervention? What if there IS a God who actually plays a hand in choosing a Pope? And (here’s the biggie), what if that God IS tired of all the bullshit? What if a Divine Being actually existed who decided to choose the lives of children, over the p0wers of the Vatican?
So maybe, at the end of the day, the Pope can’t fix the Church. But when you think about what one, maverick Pope could do with just a few words spoken out of a love for children over the love of a cover-up, or a love for women over the love for sexism, or a love for gays over the love for ignorance…it’s actually quite amazing the changes this one person could make, not only in that Church, but in our world.
However, I would say we have better odds waiting for God to come down and kick some ass and set things straight. Unfortunately, the God that the Catholic Church worships has been put in an old-folks home, has lost all powers of attorney, and must sit by (quilt on lap) and watch as his kids systematically destroy the home he built out of Love. All while being fed banana pudding and being talked to like a five-year old.
Vince is an author and creator of stuff, that can be seen HERE.