Change Must Come from Us
I agree with Jon O’Brien’s article, “Popey Changey” (Vol. XXXV, No. 4), that we are seeing the papacy become more human under Francis. This church should be a house with open doors for all people to participate, one where the sacraments are not refused for any reason. As Francis has said, the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a generous remedy and food for the weak.”
One of the other things I appreciate about this pope is his departure from fundamentalism. Francis has demonstrated that not even the church has “a monopoly on the interpretation of social realities or the proposal of solutions to contemporary problems.”
However, the doors still remain closed to women in decision-making roles like the diaconate and priesthood. Those closed doors reaffirm the stereotype of the submissive, quiet woman as the only option for a woman in the church.
Francis made certain declarations about sexual diversity that were encouraging, but they have not inspired any changes at the institutional level. Church authorities are still free to obstruct legislation recognizing the human rights of LGBT people, as well as the sexual and reproductive rights of women and young people. We have heard the pope recognize women, but those who need an abortion will continue to feel discriminated against by the church.
Pope Francis’ chosen path can lead to greater understanding of these issues. But it is not guaranteed to promote the necessary changes to welcome all people into the church, including those whose lives and stories differ from the current church teachings.
Historically, profound changes in the Catholic church have not come from the hierarchy but from below. We sincerely hope that more prophetic voices will arise from inside the church and that Pope Francis will hear them. Otherwise, many parishes will not have anyone in Mass, many chairs will remain empty, many convents will close and many people will not live their faith in community like Jesus taught us.
Founder, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir-Argentina