THE BLOG

How the Catholic Church Should Change

03/18/2013 05:26 EDT | Updated 05/17/2013 05:12 EDT

With the advent of the new Pope, everyone is talking about how the Catholic church should change. When CBC's Peter Mansbridge, interviewed Cardinal Ouelette from Montreal, his questions were all about how the Catholic church should change. Cardinal Ouellet of course mentioned all the plans to protect children now introduced into the church so that the sexual abuse scandal can never happen again.

However, I would like to explain to Mansbridge that really, it's the Bible that is supposed to judge the culture and that does judge the church's sexual abuse scandal as terribly wrong, and not the culture that is supposed to judge the Bible. But I don't think he is taking phone calls from an average evangelical Christian.

With regards to how the Catholic church should change, I may as well put in my two cents worth.

But first I have to tell you how the Catholic church has changed, and for the better.

It's 1439, in Germany, Gutenberg has just invented the movable type printing press. The first book ever printed is the Bible. But guess what language it was printed in? Latin. In Europe, at the time, it ranged from being discouraged to being basically illegal to print the Bible in the vernacular; the language of the common people. In fact, in England, Wycliffe and Tyndale, got into big trouble for translating and printing the Bible in English.

Never mind Martin Luther's complaints nailed to the Wittenberg church door in 1517. The real accomplishment of the Protestant reformation, for both Catholics and Protestants alike, is finally winning the argument, that the Bible should be made freely available to everyone, in the language of the common people. But it took a long time.

For example, during the time of Canadian confederation, when the protestant minister Egerton Ryerson,

was appointed by the legislature to organize the public school system in Canada, Ryerson asked the Catholics to join. They said no. And you will never guess one of the reasons. It was because Ryerson had proposed that the Bible be used in the public school curriculum, to teach from and read aloud from. And at the time, this was just not the Catholic way to do things, to have average Catholics reading the Bible for themselves, never mind Catholic school kids.

And so the great change for the better, that has occurred in the Catholic church, happened during the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's, when Catholics were finally encouraged to read the Bible for themselves.

However, it should be noted with appreciation that the Catholic insistence for doing things in Canada their way, has given Canada the constitutional guaranteed blessing of publicly funded Catholic schools. And we chose a Catholic school for our daughter, because there she is free to pray, and be encouraged by the school, to seek Biblical wisdom for her life.

All looked on, by our atheist friends, with consternation, that we in Canada, are not subject to the US Supreme Court distortion of the true meaning of the principles of the separation of church and state, the way the Americans are. (Perhaps the only reason the US Supreme Court has not struck down "In God we trust" off the US currency, is that they know they would look ridiculous, saying that what has been appreciated and loved for many years, by generations of Americans, is now illegal; namely, having the phrase "In God we trust" on some of the US currency. A reasonable view is, under the US Constitution, congress can express a viewpoint, "In God we trust", but congress cannot pay for churches or pay for the salaries of clergy, ie establish a state church.)

Here is my two cents worth of how the Catholic church should change. They should allow Catholic priests to marry. Pope Francis could make this change. After all the celibacy of the Catholic clergy is just church tradition, that may have had a teaching role for a past time. After all, Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, the rock upon which the church was built, the first Pope, was married. Three times in the New Testament, we are told the account of how Jesus healed from a severe fever, the mother of Peter's wife. (Please see Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38,39, Matthew 8:14,15)

Perhaps, at the time, the celibacy of the Catholic priesthood was meant to show the world that promiscuity and alcoholism could be overcome for the sake of serving God, the children and the family.

But perhaps the Catholic church can show the world today something new. Perhaps Catholic priests can marry women who are disabled, to show the world that marriages can survive and prosper, even when our spouse is less than perfect. None of us is a perfect spouse, and that's why we need and have a Redeemer and good teacher to help us, Christ the Lord.

P.S. It has been reported that Pope Francis is a very humble man, who used to ride the bus to work every day, just like one of us. And his riding the bus reminds me of Joan Osborne's beautiful song.