The Roman Catholic Church is the oldest organization on earth at 2,000 years. It changes very slowly. In theology it only changes at the far edges. It is built on a rock (some say built of road).
The first change is in the Acts of the Apostles. It seems that the Apostles and early Roman Catholics believed you had to be circumcised to join the Church. St. Paul was having trouble getting “Greeks” to join the Roman Church because circumcision hurts so much. So St. Peter convinced the rest to drop the requirement. This was a small change in Roman Church theology. There have been other “edge” changes.
A priest once said to me, “The Roman Church never admits it is wrong, it just stops talking about the point.” An example of this is usury, the lending of money with interest. It is no longer a sin. Opposing the “Devine Right of Kings” is OK now. Oh, the Roman Church no longer cares if you believe the earth circles the sun. As you can judge, the above are not central theology.
On the basic beliefs of the Church there has been no backing down, there has been growth. The two statements on Mary: the Immaculate Conception and Assumption are two examples of growth.
Problems for Pope Francis
Most of the following is about the United States Roman Catholics Church. I have little experience outside of the United States. Only 24 percent of U.S. Roman Catholic people go to church on Sunday. Our parish has many more funerals than marriages and it should be only two to one, or less. We have a critical shortage of priests and vocations. The Roman Catholics in the United States has only grown by 2 percent or 3 percent in my life of 85 years. I run into many fathers who tell me none of their children go to church, ditto.
I think a big problem is that people see their local parish like the federal government. You can complain about it but there is nothing you can do. In other words, the Roman Catholic Church is something they belong to, but it is not something they are. We feel there is nothing we can do to affect it.
The central point here is, “What do I want the new Pope to do”? At my age of 86 years, I do not expect anything he does will filter down to me before I die. I’m crying for my children, grandchildren and the unborn. I love my Church and my children.
When a parish has a majority of graduated parish members from high school, it would be nice to have a parish council of laymen. This council would have complete control of all finances and property. In the first two years the pastor would have a 2/3 veto over the council. After that, the council would control the money, property and employees, but not the clergy.
Once a week, the pastor would have a one-hour open forum with the parishioners. Parishioners could petition for a five-minute time to talk in this forum. Any parish newspaper must have a lay editor who reports to the parish council only. The pastors would have a one-page letter.
Notice the only transfer of power is that the laymen get control of the material church, and theology remains with the clergy. Also, the laymen would have a voice and the pastor must confront the parishioners once a week. The pastor has access to all the parishioners.
If these changes are installed, the effects would be gradual. It would take the lay Christian Roman Catholics to know what differences they wanted. Also, the two-year pastor’s 2/3 veto would slow the change. The quick change would be the newspaper. Nuts like me would be heard. Having the pastor meet weekly would be a happy loving experience for both sides.
Chance of this happening
The chance of the above happening with Pope Francis is somewhere between zero and 1 percent: but if the Holy Spirit thinks it is good for the Church — it will.
• Retired engineer Jim Taunt is a 25-year resident of Ahwatukee Foothills. He attends Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Ahwatukee.