The word "if" is very powerful. We look at life and wonder, "What would have happened if...?" At least that is a recurring train of thought that runs through my mind every now and then. C. S. Lewis referred to "the big IF" when he wrote the Chronicles of Narnia. In one of the books, a character is told that, "No one is ever told what would have happened."
Today another news story emerged about the Roman Catholic Church, a sad story in which a priest resigned because he took responsibility for fathering a child. Because the Church of Rome will not reconsider their law of celibacy--a law which they ignore when it comes to priests in Africa who simply ignore it--they will lose Father Dean McCalls, who has been serving his congregation satisfactorily for years. Parishioners are quoted in the article from Huffington Post as believing that he should remain at his post and that the celibacy law ought to be revoked.
This is another example that demonstrates how very much the Catholic Church needs to come to terms with reality, coming as it does on top of the story about the Australian priest who was actually excommunicated for advocating spiritual equality. Over there in Rome they are not any more out of touch than American primitive Protestant un-Christianity, but when you put all primitive un-Christianity together, it amounts to a staggering burden of shame that mainstream Christianity has to deal with. It is the stereotype that provokes derision and contempt from the unbelieving community; it gives non-Christians ammunition to forbid their members from considering our claims. We have earned this shame by sitting out every major social issue since the Civil Rights Movement, and we will have to carry the burden until, it appears, the Church will surely run aground and lie dying, like a beached whale.
We can look at the Catholic Church and see the conditions that would make it one of the most powerful organizations in history, or they would IF:
IF the Catholic Church would accept the concept that all human beings are of equal value, not just Christians or not just male heterosexuals;
IF the Catholic Church would renounce the dictatorial authority of the Papacy and relegate to its membership the "right" to govern their own lives;
IF the Catholic Church would accept the legitimacy of all other denominations;
IF the Catholic Church would open their priesthood to all Catholics who have a vocation to ministry;
IF the Catholic Church would stop teaching terror behind closed doors to Catholics in schools, retreats and catechism classes.
But these things are the present reality of Catholicism. The new Papal dictator made quite a splash with his conciliatory remarks recently, but his actions contradict those pretty words--ask Father Greg Reynolds in Australia if you don't believe me. Father Reynolds already knows that he can continue in his priesthood if he translates his Catholic priesthood into the Anglican Communion, but right now he is holding out. He dreams of bringing about change in Rome, when Rome has no incentive at all to give up one bit of their authority. Hey, it's working as a whole, so why should they let Reynolds, or Andrew Sullivan, or Father McCalls kick the pebble over the cliff? That's how landslides get started.
For more info: if you want to read the HP story about the latest priestly tragedy, find it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/30/dean-mcfalls-priest-fathers-chi...