12 Things I'd Do if I Were Pope for the Day



If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would order all bishops and cardinals if they're not already doing so, to live with their priests in the diocesan communities - not in an exclusive residence.  The title bishop should not exalt the ordained, but humble.  I would remind them that they are shepherds called to serve their flock.  They need to live among the sheep. 


If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would challenge all priests to rediscover the wonder and mystery of the sacraments.  If they believe in grace, in blessings, in miracles - if they believe that bread and wine is transformed into the Divine Presence during the consecration - it should show on their faces.  Their eyes should reflect that sense of wonder.

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would address Catholics everywhere in a public video announcement that would be posted to the Vatican YouTube Channel and released to press outlets worldwide. I would speak on behalf of the Church and say:
"We are sorry.  We are sorry that priests whom you trusted, abused your children.  We are sorry and disgraced that in some cases we protected these predators.  We are also sorry that through our efforts to keep our universal family in tact, we sometimes disciplined without love, judged without understanding, and used fear and guilt to control you, rather than employ vision and passion to lead you.  But we love you - all of you.  And as all men's sins are shortcuts to love, we confess our sins, but proclaim that love for you has always occupied the greatest portion of our heart.  And our love still stands firm, unwavering and unconditional.  We pray that God will show us how to bind up our wounds and find each other again, and walk together as a family."

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 or cast your judgements without making a few deposits first. 

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would immediately decree that women can be ordained and priests can marry.  Then I'd appoint a task force to develop a strategy for integrating these changes into the Church's infrastructure.  There would be little or no discussion regarding the justice of this decision. 

If I were Pope for day ...
... I would pose this question to every woman... "When does life begin?"   And since we could debate the question into infinity, I would beg women everywhere to give "life" the benefit of the doubt.  Choose life.  Always choose life.  Trust God to work it out.  Likewise, I'd encourage Catholic institutions to demonstrate their support by not exiling women who choose life from schools and pastoral ministries just because they are unwed mothers.


If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would allocate funds for a worldwide marketing campaign that encourages praying the rosary, complemented by handing our free rosaries, online instructions on how to say it, and testimony from rosary devotees about the benefits.  Funds would also support developing a Rosary YouTube Channel. 

If I were Pope for the day ...
...I would demand two immediate changes in clergy lifestyle.  Priests and bishops would be required to spend at least two weeks per year in personal reflection and uninterrupted prayer (not a vacation) in order to recharge the spirit.  They would also be required to share at least one meal a week with a local family.  Yes - every week.  The purpose of this meal-sharing is for the clergy to learn - not teach. 

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would ban all clothing that denotes religious importance.  This would include gold crosiers, ornate mitres, choir robes and expensive vestments.  This is not an effort to berate symbolic or ritual garments, but to eliminate the flashiness that implies that those wearing the garments are worthy of worship. I would also officially ban forever - the kissing of rings.

If I were Pope for the day ...
...I would assign a marketing task force to bring the good works of the Church into the media spotlight.  The Church gives millions to charitable causes world wide, and engages in countless acts that serve the world's poor and needy, yet we keep a low profile about these involvements.  It's time to balance the public view. 

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would warn all priests and bishops that ecclesiastical ambition is sinful and unnecessary.  I'd encourage them to reject the desire for title, power and recognition, and realize that God is strongest in them when they are the most vulnerable. Jesus Christ rejected titles, and the ones around him who sought power and control were the very ones who organized his crucifixion. 

If I were Pope for the day ...
... I would encourage the faithful to realize that being a priest is not easy.  Most of the feedback they get from a congregation is critical.  Priests are seldom appreciated or personally affirmed, yet they are expected to be an infinite well of spiritual insight, understanding, forgiveness, and encouragement. Priests are always on call, and to them it often seems that no matter how much of themselves they give... it's never enough.  They are often lonely.  Remember that priests are human too.  Affirm them when you can, give them the space they need,  and do your part in working with them to nurture the faith of the community. 


There it is. Twelve insights of a lifelong Catholic who worked many years in the Church.  I'm sure  some readers will find my insights impractical and even blasphemous.

But then ... the name of this blog is ...   (read the header if you've forgotten).



Copyright 2013, by Great Blue Media.  Portions of this article were published in 2007.  This article written on the morning Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation.