Here’s my candidacy for pope, yes I know you can’t run for pope (I'm from the south side though, we have elections for everything), but I’m making my case for the papacy. Okay I’m not a priest (I am a Catholic though, and attended Catholic school from junior high through college), in fact I’m married but I think that makes me better qualified to lead the faith. I’ll be honest, in the three years I've been married, I've learned more about me, relationships and the world than the previous 33 years.
Anyway, as pope the first thing I would do is allow priests to be married and not like deacons where if you get ordained and your wife dies you can’t remarry or you get ordained and are not married you can’t marry. No that door would be wide open, marriage is an instrumental part of life (and a religious sacrament), and to not be allowed walk down the aisle is downright criminal.
The very next thing I would do is allow women to be ordained. I've known some religious sisters who could be excellent priests and bishops. The priesthood can’t be an old boys club in 2013, it’s why the shortage is so bad. Who do you think attends mass? It’s mostly women, you have to allow you members to be involved, and not just readers and Eucharistic ministers.
And yes we would marry gays & lesbians, who are we to judge them?
The bureaucracy in dioceses (especially like an archdioceses in Chicago), would end. Deaneries, vicars, and all that would be gone. We believe in one apostolic church, no need for levels, a bishop (or cardinal in large cities), and some associates and that’s all. Its more important to focus on the parish and that they have the resources they need.
The wonderful Catholic School system would come back to the hood (so many of us have benefited from a Catholic education), I’d work with charter schools (yeah I know about separation of church and state), and have more opportunities for education in inner cities. We’d partner the parishes with community organizations, work hard on corporate fundraising and underwriting and do what the church is supposed to, minister to those in need. If it can be done in rural areas overseas, then the urban areas can get the ministry, education and services they need.
Next is clean up the remaining mess from the sex scandal. No more cover ups, payouts, settlements or any of that. Any religious person who is accused of any crime, they are immediately turned over to local authorities and out of ministry until they are cleared or found guilty and then defrocked. No internal investigations or any of that, if in your regular job you had serious allegations against you, probably you wouldn't work there anymore, same in the faith business.
Another thing on the agenda is to make the faith accessible, priests would be required to go out to preach the word and minister to people as said in the gospel of John. We would create micro-parishes at train stations (not just large end of the line depots like Union Station but most of the Metra stations and CTA Red line stops that are manned with an agent), there would also be store front churches in areas that don't need or have full size parishes. Also there would be chapels in office buildings as well in retail corridors along with with priests on call and people of the faith that could be reached and available around the clock. All of this would allow people to attend daily mass before or after work, get marriage counseling while out for dinner or just have someone hear confession when its convienent.
I’d also create a new position, Para-priests, they would be ordained but be more like part time priests, they’d would not live in a rectory but have a normal life and be from all walks of life, just regular people but able minister at the drop of a hat.
I was a peer minister in high school and available to my classmates for ministry or mostly to just listen. I could even be called at home. It’s vital to people’s faith that they have someone they can trust and talk to without intimidation and that person is a peer not out of reach or touch.
I take these changes seriously, though I know I can't be pope, I just hope the church understands our needs and the next leader of the faith is more open to change.