Whether this is a step toward the church recognizing that its longstanding prohibition against marriage for priests has inevitably led or contributed to some of the problems it has encountered related to molestations of young boys by some priests, we don't yet know. In fact, that change will likely be slow to come, if ever.
But what we can expect is a Holy Father who will at the very least deliver a common touch back to the papacy. Pope John Paul II was a hardline conservative as to church doctrine, and it appears Pope Francis will be the same. But "JP2," as he was popularly referred to, at least seemed to invoke a feeling of love, caring, simplicity and devotion to the words of Christ -- something for which Catholics clearly craved and non-Catholics could finally identify.
The Catholic Church would be fooling itself if it did not realize that the intrigue within the Vatican and a somewhat tin ear as to frailties outside its walls have badly damaged its reputation. At the same time, in many parts of the world, had it not been for the modern Catholic Church, communism never would have fallen or would be spreading like wildfire. Like everything that involves humans, the church has both its transgressions and its great merits.
And the entire message of Jesus was that of love and forgiveness. Love and forgiveness can start with parishioners who, like me, have shied away from the Catholic Church in recent years, feeling that while our own individual parish is great, the church as a whole was a rat hole into which pouring time or money was a lost cause.
Healing takes time. But forgiveness should be instantaneous. It is time for Catholics around the world to forgive their church, embrace this man of the people, seek forgiveness themselves and start to heal.
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