The College of Cardinals is now entering the Sistine Chapel to begin the conclave to elect the next Vicar of Christ, and that, my fellow readers, is what most people refer to as the Pope. It's Il Papa to Italians. The Pope will be the leader of 33 percent of the world's population, or the 2.2 billion people who refer to themselves as Roman Catholics.
I am a Catholic, and I like being a Catholic. I am a member of our local council of the Knights of Columbus and I am proud to be a member. I love that I am a member of a community of great people that I have a lot in common with. However, that said, there are many positions that the Church has taken over the years that I do not in any way whatsoever agree with. Therefore, I would like the new Pope to be a younger person who would be willing to modernize the Church, while retaining all of the Principles it stands for.
I believe the Church is a vessel if discipline and virtues, which I think are essential for raising a family. However, because the church is run by a bunch of old men who seem to be out of touch with the younger generations and changes that have effected these younger generations, many younger people are fleeing the church.
Now it's nothing new for people to flee the Catholic church. It's nothing new for people to get bored and want something easier. Yet today we face challenges never before faced by the church, and these involve a mass of new things that compete for young minds, such as free time, social groups, the Internet, iPhones, iPods, video games, and a mass of such things. It's easy to see how someone could get bored with the Church.
It's easy to see how a kid who is used to keeping his mind busy with all these things would have no interest in sitting for an hour listening to an old man talk. And those who are interested in learning about God and Jesus are switching to religions that allow donuts before mass, and socializing, and rock and roll music to be played during Church. Many of these religions have fun Bible studies for kids to participate in during mass, and kids love it. Kids are bored with the Catholic Church.
Personally, I've been going to the Catholic church for so long, that I'm used to the discipline. I'm used to the structure. I think it's great. However, I do think there are simple things the Church, the new Pope, can do to keep younger members, and to compete with other religions. Here are my tips. Yes, some of them may be seen as radical, but I don't care.
1. Women Priests: The Church used to have women Priests. So it would be nothing totally radical to allow women into the papacy. This would help to heal the image of the church as a bunch of old, homophobic, out of touch white males.
2. Suppport contraceptives: It's a proven fact that over 80 percent of Americans use contraceptives, including about that many of Catholics. To continue to tell young couples they can't have control over their own lives is primitive. Now, I am not saying they should change their stance on abstinence until marriage, however.
3. Accept Gay people: As I wrote a few days ago, I'm tired of members of religious circles trash talking gay people. I think it's about time the Church come out of the closet and accept that gay people are normal folks like you and me who are just as much loved by Jesus as the rest of us.
4. Accept Capitalism: I would say the Catholic Church is on its way to irrelevancy if it doesn't start distancing itself from the Democrat Party and the idea that liberalism equals charity. Because liberalism does not equal charity, and that's how the church got sucked into supporting Democrats. Not just the Catholic Church, but all religions got sucked in to supporting the Democrat Party and all these movements, all these social causes, because they began to equate government largess with charity. And it isn't. The government is not a charitable organization. Charity exists because people willingly donate their own money to the cause. That's not what happens with government social programs. That money is extracted from people, and it's spent on things that many people would never spend that money on if they had any control over it. But the church got roped in, and they weren't the only ones that got roped in. It's time for the new Pope to put an end to support for government programs that never succeed and rob people of any chance of prosperity.
5. Allow food and socializing before mass: I think church would be much more fun if you could walk into the church, grab a donut, and socialize with people you only see one a week. I understand communion is supposed to be sacred, and you are supposed to not eat before you receive it, but this is a tradition that is not necessary and few respect it anyway.
6. Have family fun days: The Church should encourage members of the congregation to get together between mass and let loose. The pastor of the Lutheran church and his wife who live next door to us rent large water slides and invite all the kids of the neighborhood to get together for food and fun. They also have special events all year long. I think it's time the Catholic Church start to do fun things like this. My kids and I participate in many of these events, and for this reason I often feel more at home around them than I do around fellow Catholics.
7. End confessions: Nobody feels comfortable telling an old man your sins. I have a problem with it. Besides, at the beginning of every mass we are forgiven of our sins anyway, so confession is not even necessary. I think confession is a private matter to be dealt with between the individual and Jesus (God).
I think what is important is that a person is a Christian first, and religion come second. I can say this because religion is a man made institution, created by man to help fellow man accept God, Jesus and virtues. It's an attempt by society to get people to be good, virtuous and productive members of society. I think it is more important to be Christian than Catholic.
That said, I am a Catholic, I want to be a Catholic, and I will be a Catholic for life. However, like my great grandfather said to my grandma, "I think it's important you participate in a religion, but what religion you choose is up to you." If the Catholic Church doesn't want to lose these children, I think it's time the Church make necessary changes without giving up on core principle.