(Community Matters) In the New Yorker (such eloquent & inspiring words):
“Who Am I to Judge? A radical Pope’s first year,” by James Carroll : “‘Who am I to judge?’ With those five words, spoken in late July in reply to a reporter’s question about the status of gay priests in the Church, Pope Francis stepped away from the disapproving tone, the explicit moralizing typical of Popes and bishops. This gesture of openness, which startled the Catholic world, would prove not to be an isolated event. In a series of interviews and speeches in the first few months after his election, in March, the Pope unilaterally declared a kind of truce in the culture wars that have divided the Vatican and much of the world. Repeatedly, he argued that the Church’s purpose was more to proclaim God’s merciful love for all people than to condemn sinners for having fallen short of strictures, especially those having to do with gender and sexual orientation.
“His break from his immediate predecessors … is less ideological than intuitive, an inclusive vision of the Church centered on an identification with the poor. … The move from rule by non-negotiable imperatives to leadership by invitation and welcome is as fundamental to the meaning of the faith as any dogma. Of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, about forty-one per cent live in Latin America. Catholicism has declined in Europe and the United States, but the pews of churches throughout the developing world are crowded. The election by the College of Cardinals of the first Latin-American Pope is a signal of the Church’s demographic pivot.
“Francis’s place of origin alone would make him a historic figure , but the statements he has made, and the example he has set, with gestures of modesty and compassion, show a man determined to realign the vast institution with the core message of Jesus. … Roman Catholicism is the only worldwide institution that crosses boundaries of north and south, east and west, affluence and abject poverty. Given that reach, how can the human family thrive without a reformed, critically minded, ethically responsible Catholic Church? Does Francis’s explicitly Christian message of a loving merciful God survive, even in the secular age, as an inchoate symbol of the human longing for transcendence?”
Just as one no longer has to renounce American citizenship in order to embrace their ancestral, I feel invited back to Catholicism (& accept) as I maintain my Episcopal membership & family.