By jay Nichols: (Self Proclaimed Catholic Wiccan).
The other week, his holiness Pope Benedict XVI: the head of the Roman Catholic Church, made headlines and caused more than one person to literally exclaim: “WTF?!”, when he issued a condemnation of the Conference of Women’s Religious, AKA one of the largest group of American nuns, AKA, brides of Christ. What caused the leader of the world’s largest single church to firmly lay the papal smack down on Jesus’s honeys?
No, they weren’t partying with the secret service down in South America. No, they weren’t teaching or spreading a belief that was at odds with the Catholic Church. They weren’t even sneaking extra communion wine from the rectory.
One of the largest group of American nuns were scolded for spending too much time helping the poor.
NO, I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP!
The Vatican was publicly forced to chastise these rabble rousing sisters for not spending enough time on the rest of their duties, and I’m not talking about remembering to vacuum the floor.
Pope Benedict XVI is a rather conservative leader, and he feels quite strongly that the church should spend more time and effort at combating such Catholic no-nos as abortion and gay marriage. From a strictly Catholic stand-point, he’s right. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, in fact, especially on the issue of gay marriage, these two social issues are rather big no-nos in every single major religion on the planet. It is the duty of the Catholic Church, as it is the duty of every religion; to combat what it feels is at odds with their beliefs. Religions whether Christian, Muslim, indigenous tribal, ETC, all should work to please their God as they believe that deity wishes to be honored. However, while there are many rules and regulations every church must work to try to enforce within their congregations, and perhaps even outside them, I can think of no issue of higher importance than helping the poor.
Certainly, if it is the view of the Roman Catholic Church that Gay marriage and abortion is wrong, then priests and nuns alike should be working to spread that doctrine, and to do what they can to see that it is observed: But not at the expense of other teachings. These social issues are important to his Holiness, and yes, to the structure of the church as well. But for Mr. XVI to place them over and above one of the central commandments of Jesus and indeed of virtually every major religion ever founded, for the Catholic Church to decree that the most needy should be made to suffer even further so the church can work on some issues that are so outside the cares of those truly in need, is frankly, a complete abandonment of his papal duties.
We Roman Catholics believe, or at least hope, that the election of our leader is done not by mere man, but by God himself. The highest ranking of our priests called cardinals gather and after hours and hours of praying for guidance, they cast their votes for the next head of the Catholic Church. We lowly Catholic parishioners believe or at least hope that when they cast their vote, that the Holy Spirit is speaking through them, and that it is All Mighty God who is actually selecting our pope. This practice is not all that unusual. An American woman was chosen by tribal elders to be king of her ancestral village in Ghana in a similar manner a few years ago. There is little doubt by most Roman Catholics that the previous pope, John Paul II, was truly chosen by God, but as for the election of the former Joseph Ratzinger…
Whether God or man is controlling the process, it is clear that the Vatican may be going too far. There has for years, been a movement by many Roman Catholics largely in the United States, but to an extent all around the world to break away from Rome. Pope Benedict’s latest decree to essentially screw the very people that Jesus told us were the most important, will certainly push this likely coming schism further along. It is ironic, that the current pope who has stated that one of his personal goals is to reunite the Roman and Orthodox Catholic Churches, may in fact be the modern 95 theses nailed to the church door. Yes, every religion has its doctrine, and that doctrine should be enforced. But times change, and people, indeed religions, must change with them. Jesus said nothing about abortion, or when a human life is a human life. The Christian stance on abortion is therefore an interpretation of his words by lowly humans. If a church wants to last, then the church must change to some extant with the times. Pope Benedict doesn’t need to give the all clear for the building of drive through abortions to begin, but such things as the use of condoms, use of the Morning After pill, and use of in-vitro fertilization, so an infertile woman can have a child of her own, these issues and others, are ones that should not be simply dismissed out of hand.
It is well known, that in the very early days of the Christian church, women were often the leaders of congregations. Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene were just two of these. There is biblical evidence that Mary Magdalene may have had a place as high as the 12 disciples themselves; for it was Mary Magdalene that was the first to see Jesus’ empty tomb, and it was also her who was the first to see Jesus upon his resurrection. (Gospel of John) Yet, even with a shortage of Catholic priests in many parts of the world, Pope Benedict has firmly closed the door on the ordination of women as priests.
Historians tell us that Jesus was born sometime in the spring or summer. But most Christians including Roman Catholics celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25, right around the ancient pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice. Things can be tweaked, rules can be changed. I, myself, have never heard a sermon given in what was once the traditional Latin, and I have no wish to. Pope Benny XVI needs to get his priorities straight and do some serious rereading of Jesus’ teachings. He better do it in a hurry to, or he will find himself the Sheppard of a much smaller flock.
Currently, the so-called pagan religion of Wicca is believed to be the fastest growing religion in the United States, and it is on course to be the third largest religion in the US before the end of this very year. If it is the goal of Pope Benedict XVI to spread the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, thereby reducing the numbers of those following other religions,, and especially if he entertains dreams of reuniting two great churches, then he is going about it entirely the wrong way. His actions will in fact lead not to expansion of the word of the Christian God, but rather to its reduction. It is actions such as the scolding of the nuns that have divided the church before, and will do so again with the added bonus of causing the renewal of a religion, that while called Pagan, heretical, ETC, is far more in line with Jesus’ teachings, than the very religion that his disciples founded in his name. Mainstream Wicca in fact, teaches that men and women are completely equal, one of the reasons for which it is so rapidly growing.
If Pope Benedict cannot update the church to meet the times, and especially if Wiccan can move forward like the other mainstream religions with religious charities and the like, then Pope Benedict XVI may find himself presiding over what will go down as one of the darkest days in Christian history, another great schism, and it will be one entirely of his own making.