After all the appealing window dressing that accompanied Pope Francis when he assumed the papacy — he carries his own bags, he lives modestly: wonderful stuff — faded before the agenda he slowly unfolded, conservative Catholics began to question the direction this kindly but decidedly liberal man would take the Church.

They had reason to do so back then; they have even more reason now.

Noting the priest shortage in the Amazon regions of his beloved South America, Francis has opened debate’s door to alleviating that shortage by allowing “proven men” (who happen to be married with families) to join the priesthood.

This is tectonic material that may have “schism” written all over it. Liberal Catholics will hail the suggestion as practical, realistic. The Church is growing in South America and Africa, and priests are needed. Why not join the 21st century and let the clergy marry? It may also have the added benefit of addressing the sexual-abuse scandals that have rocked the church.

For conservative Catholics, this limited experiment in South America may make good sense — until they realize it may put the camel’s nose firmly under the tent. If not in South America, then why not in South Boston? More than 1,000 years of tradition would be swept away, and those who look to the Church as the “Rock” declared to Peter by Jesus: “(T)hou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18) would be left adrift.

Surprisingly, and somewhat ominously, Francis seems to eschew tradition; to wit: On Sunday, during his homily at St. Peter’s in Rome, he said, “If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that ‘this is the way things have always been done,’ then the gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo.”

But what if by sweeping away tradition and obliterating the status go, “the gift vanishes”? What will that say of the “Rock”?

(6) comments

Rattler

Actually there is abuse in other demonizations. The media chooses to focus on Catholics. Now with that being said , I as no longer a practicing catholic thinks it would be a good idea. Maybe priest, who are only men, could have a better appreciation of marriage and life in general..The thing I pray doesn't change is the church's stance on abortion. All lives matter

Spock Here

I cannot agree more about the demonizations of religion

CRT

It's a Freudian typo.

Rattler

Glad you caught that. Gotta keep ya on your toes... how about denomination's. Now for real conversation

Spock Here

Pope Francis gives me hope for the Catholic church

CRT

It would seem that every other religious denomination does well with married clergy. When did Jesus say clergy should be celibate? Then again, when did he say women should not be church leadership positions? You might note that denominations that allow women in leadership/clergy roles do not have the rampant abuse of children and women seen in the patriarchal Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant churches.

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