Monday, March 11, 2013

Thoughts on the Papal Abdication and Election

As a Ph.D. student at The Catholic University of America, the official papal university in the United States, the news surrounding the pope's abdication and the upcoming conclave are news items of importance for this community that I frequent. Of course, I am somewhat of an interloper, not being a member of the Roman church, but am still a member of the community there. (And treated very well, I might add!) During my course of studies it has been quite interesting to observe from a more "insider" perspective the workings of the Church of Rome - both positive and negative.

Regarding the upcoming conclave, yes, I have been watching the goings on and am quite interested. This is so because what happens in one church body affects the others also - both in positive and negative ways. For example, when I was taking classes and we do the obligatory introduction on the first day of class, I would introduce myself as a Lutheran Pastor, but then have to immediately add "but not that kind of Lutheran!" (Meaning, not one of the Lutherans who approve of women pastors, supports abortion rights, and has homosexual clergy.) To which there was often a sigh of relief!

But that is just an example. This is also true of the church with regard to the world. Unbelievers do not make much distinction between denominations - we're all "Christians" to them. So when one church decides homosexuality is alright, or one church is caught up in financial scandals or child abuse scandals, or a church leader kisses the Koran (!) - we're all guilty. Likewise, then, with the papal news - though we're not directly involved, it affects us all, pro or con.

So, who is elected the next pope is important. I have appreciated many of the things said by the last two popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and their strong voice for the sanctity of life, the biblical teaching on marriage, the liturgy, and more. Of course, we still have theological disagreement and that cannot be dismissed. For the most part, coverage of these goings on have been positive, and for that I am grateful. It will be interesting now to see what happens next . . .

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