As a liberal and a Catholic woman , I was none too pleased—but none too surpised, either—to see Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger chosen as the new pope. It may have been naïve, but I was hoping Pope John Paul II's death might usher in an era of change for the Catholic church. A lot of the chatter now by liberal types about the new pope involves limiting the damage he'll do and hoping that he won't be around too long (the guy is 78, after all.) But Catholics For A Free Choice has a refreshingly pragmatic approach.
The liberal Catholic group has called on Benedict XVI to "span the divide widened during the last papacy between clergy and laity, men and women, north and south, right and left, gay and straight" by reaching out to those who have been most hurt by church policies in the past decades.
With that goal in mind, CFFC has laid out a schedule for the new pope's first 100 days, which includes face-to-face meetings with survivors who were abused by the clergy, an immediate re-evaluation of the church's policy on condoms, the establishment of a Pontifical Academy on Women's Rights in the Church and a dialogue about married priests. Some highlights from the schedule :
The new pontiff should immediately meet with survivors of sexual abuse by the clergy. No child, no adult survivor and no nun who faced this most profound betrayal of faith were ever able to secure a meeting with the late pontiff. Now the Vatican should redress that wrong and sit down in a private meeting to hear the grief, the pain and the anger of those the church has most let down, including members of SNAP, nuns, young people and adult survivors who have all been abused by Catholic clergy. If the church ever needed a truth and reconciliation process, it is over the scandal of sexual abuse.
The new pope should immediately initiate an inquiry into the theological basis for permitting the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, including visits to regions particularly hard hit by the pandemic. However, people with and at risk of HIV/AIDS should not need to wait for the results of the commission to be able to protect themselves. The pope should lift the ban on condoms immediately in order to err on the side of life.
The pope should establish the Pontifical Academy on Women's Rights in the Church. As a first step, the Academy would serve as a registry for qualified women candidates for positions that are already open to women. All Vatican officials and ambassadors will submit their resignation from office to the new pope. At least 50 percent of those resignations should be accepted and the posts filled with qualified women.
The requests are hardly radical, and they don't change any church teachings. More importantly, the effect even one of these actions would have in injecting new life into the church and new hope for millions of Catholics is hard to overestimate.
| Tuesday 4:14 PM