Friday, March 15, 2013

Reform and Catholicism

The election of Father Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis marks what I hope is the beginning of a final set of reforms of the Catholic church.  I am a Protestant, raised in the Lutheran church and schooled in the history of Martin Luther's break from Catholicism over not just doctrinal issues, but more over the abuse of power by the medieval church.  Those abuses are long past, but it took a long time for the Catholic Church to eventually change its focus.  George Weigel argues that the outward focus of the Church, an evangelical focus if you will, started under Pope Leo XIII at the turn of the last century.  Pope Francis completes this cycle.  According to the WSJ, in a speech given a week before the Cardinals met for the papal election, he gave a decisive speech on the need for the church to shift its focus outwards.
"He spoke of the need for catechesis and the need to address the poor…the question of justice and the dignity of the human person," said a voting U.S. cardinal.
Peggy Noonan writes that the Pope must repair the church from the twin ills of the sexual abuse scandals and infighting at the Vatican.  His real humility caught her I.  My friend Jesse noted it as well right after his election.  His emphases on both helping the poor but keeping to the traditional teachings of the church should better unite Catholic believers.

Fellow SLOBs, Leslie Eastman, shares her thoughts on College Insurrection and KT Cat on The Scratching Post.

For my part, I think this is all good news.  The Catholic church is capable of being a powerful force for good in the world.  Even though I am a Protestant, I do not feel a sense of competition with the Roman church, because we are all Christians carrying out the great commission.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
A footnote from my Pastor: the language here might be better interpreted as "as you go" make disciples, indicating that regardless of where we go, we are to be making disciples for Christ.

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