If I Were Pope For A Day

this was originally posted on the Writing the Vision Website in March of 2006


If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would insist all Bishops and Cardinals leave their separate residences and live with their priests in their local community. The title bishop should not exalt the ordained but humble them, reminding them that they are shepherds called more to serve their flock, and less to dominate it.


If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would challenge all pastors to rediscover the wonder and mystery of the Eucharist. If they believe in their hearts that bread and wine is transformed into the true divine presence during the consecration, it should show in their faces at Mass. It should be revealed in their eyes as they distribute communion. Each priest should hunger to spread this belief.

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would issue a proclamation to the faithful stating each person should be less interested in reforming the social injustices of the Church and more interested in reforming their own lives. If the time spent chanting about priests being free to marry and women being ordained were spent on helping the poor, forgiving a foe, or loving a neighbor, the Church's lingering injustices would sort themselves out.

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would remind my faithful - especially priests, teachers, and parents - that love relationships are like bank accounts. Affirmations are the deposits. Corrections and criticisms are withdrawals. Overdrafts carry penalties and bad credit is hard to shake. Don't offer a correction without making a few deposits first.

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would pose this question to every woman ... "When does life begin?" This is an unanswerable question as no one has effectively proven when life actually begins. Then, I would beg women everywhere to give "life" or "potential life" the benefit of the doubt. If you're into being free to choose - choose not to get pregnant.

If I were Pope for day ...
... I would ban the song One Bread, One Body and Hail Mary Gentle Woman from ever being sung in a Catholic Church. They gives overkill a new meaning.

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would ban choir robes for they give liturgical exaltation to servants and divide the worshipping community.

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would ask the head of the Church of England what she has in that pocketbook.

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would require religious leaders (priests, pastors, bishops) to devote two to four weeks a year for a personal retreat - not a vacation - but a retreat specifically designed for reflection, devotion and spiritual growth. How can the leaders expect to be able to feed the flock when they themselves are starving?

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would tell my priests and pastors that the most rampant sin of the priesthood is leading a dead faith community. I would also add that no excuses for having a dead faith community are necessary because none will be accepted.

Administrative tasks should never supersede spiritual leading. A pastor's job is to breath the life of the spirit into his community and that life should be felt by all who enter. This is the core of the vocation - to love as Christ loved. To live according to Christ's teaching. Priest and Pastors should be striving to capture that essence of Christ and bring it to their people... always .. every day ... without tiring. Neglecting to do this is sinful and provides a ripple effect off apathy that fractures and weakens the Church.

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would spend at least half the day in jeans and a sweatshirt in a poor neighborhood listening to the mothers, the elderly, the children, the marginalized and powerless. I would pray with them and for them. And I would beg them to pray for me.

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would guide the Church to spend some money on a worldwide marketing campaign that encourages praying the rosary, complimented by free rosaries, pamphlets of instruction and video commercials featuring testimony by those who have experienced great change in their lives for having prayed the rosary.

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would warn all priests and bishops that Ecclesiastical ambition is sinful and lines the roadbed to hell. Reject the desire for title, power and recognition. Transform it into the desire to know yourself and give yourself to others by serving. Christ rejected titles and the ones who sought power and control were the very ones who organized his crucifixion.

If I were Pope for the day ...
...I would make a new rule that requires all priests and bishops share a meal at the table of a poor family in their community once a week. What does one learn by dining with the rich? Since I believe few clergy would take this rule seriously, I would require a written postcard from each priest be sent to his bishop weekly. I would command the bishops to display the cards with his own somewhere prominent in the diocese or community where the faithful can read them and learn from them.