Elsewhere on this website is my story about Pope Francis requesting input from the world’s Catholics about marriage. What you’ll read here is my take on what this all means.
So what does it mean? Perhaps a wholesale review of what marriage is all about considering we have many different versions; cohabitation, same sex, common law and of course traditional heterosexual? Does this mean the Pope is contemplating some game changing decisions? Truthfully, who knows, but he isn’t about to go to all this trouble if he isn’t thinking about doing something to change the trend away from traditional marriages.
History has shown stable traditional marriages are the bedrock of a stable society. You start fooling around with that and it leads to instability, uncertainty and that’s deadly for a society. We just haven’t yet reached that point. What will come from it, in my opinion, is a reinforcement of traditional marriages, a way back for divorced Catholics to again receive communion and a way back for those in non-traditional “marriages” to return to the Church.
Let's be clear here, first of all, divorced Catholics are not excluded from the sacraments. That happens if they re-marry without first getting the “Declaration of Invalidity” from a marriage tribunal. Pope Francis in that impromptu air borne news conference returning from Brazil said those tribunals have to be looked at because he doesn’t think they do the job they’re supposed to. He is also about mercy and forgiveness which he has stated many times and I expect the result of next October’s extraordinary synod will show that.
Getting back to the survey; this pope is shaking up things almost as much as Blessed John XXIII when he convened Vatican II back in the ‘60s. Conservative Catholics went through shock when vernacular languages replaced Latin in the mass and a bunch of other changes even changed the look of the Church when nuns became Sisters and dumped the iconic habits and priests began running around in street clothes without the Roman collar.
The changes this Pope will make may not be as dramatic but he does intend to change things.
Our Church in the western world has been steadily declining in numbers and in influence on the world stage. It is my firm belief that this pope was deliberately chosen by the Holy Spirit “to save my Church” as was the original St. Francis. And, choosing the name Francis was, again in my opinion, not serendipity. It is the Holy Spirit’s way of making a profound announcement;I choose this man to save my church.