Tuesday, 3 July 2012

What do we believe to be right?

Thank you, Ted, for your reflection

Over the past month, I have given much thought to my own, personal feelings towards Pope Benedict. I am now confessing to you, the People of God, that I have been sinful in my own eyes and according to my interpretation of Jesus' words :"If you call any man 'thou fool', it is as if you commit murder".

I have come to believe that Pope Benedict is acting in accordance with his personal conscience, and since we are demanding the right to obey our own personal consciences, then we must surely, equally demand such a right for His Holiness.

I have to accept that Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope by the College of Cardinals with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and that She had a reason to select him. I acknowledge that many of us do not respond to our vocation from God, and go off on our own path instead of that chosen for us. I do not know if Pope Benedict is failing to respond to the vocation he was given in his holy office, or if he is indeed doing God's will. I certainly know that it is not for me to judge him ("Judge not that ye be not judged"). I do believe that there are things happening in the Vatican (and at the Vatican Bank) that are not right, but the rest of the world (secular and ecclesiastical) knows this.

So, I have come to accept that Pope Benedict believes that he is doing what he perceives to be right. In such a case, I do not believe that we can make demands of him, since this will merely cause him to defend his position, and, after all, he is an acknowledged professor of theology and I am not.

What we can do is put forward what we believe - after due consideration, prayer and meditation - to be the right way forward for the Church, and attempt to persuade those in authority of the rightness of our arguments. At our press conference, we should set out our beliefs, including our belief that we have the right to be heard, and call upon His Holiness the Pope to enter into full and equal dialogue with us on resolving any differences.

What do we believe to be right?

We believe that God created and loves all humankind equally, and that Jesus died for all (not many) so that we may be reconciled with His Father, if we so choose. (I also believe that other religions are used by the Holy Spirit to achieve this same reconciliation, but I do not know if any of you, my dear brethren, believe this, so I exclude it from my argument for the time being.)

We believe that all men and women are equal before God, whatever their beliefs, their sexual orientation, their choice of lifestyle.

We believe that those who have married but then divorced, or been divorced, and remarried are also equal.

And, since all mankind is equal, every individual man or woman is entitled to take part in all the sacraments of the Church, including the Holy Eucharist and the taking of Holy Orders, whether as a Religious Brother or Sister, as a Permanent Deacon or as a Priest (and from there into the Bishopric and Hierarchy).

We believe that, since all men and women are equal, the voices of the laity - the People of God - should be heard equally with the voices of the clergy and hierarchy in the councils and decision-making of the Church.

These are our honest beliefs, and we do not want merely to be told that His Holiness does not agree with us so we must accept his diktat. We want him to explain why he disagrees with us, and we want him to listen to our arguments and give them as much consideration, prayer and meditation as we have given them.

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