Saturday, September 21, 2013

Can Pope Francis save the Catholic church?

There is no doubt that Pope Francis is getting more raves and attention than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The former's straightforward stand towards various controversial issues has drawn the ire of millions of conservative Catholics and earned the applause of the more open-minded Catholics and modern liberals.

In this fast-paced generation of too much selfies, institutions such as the Catholic church are being attacked both sides - based on their defiance to meet the demand of modern times as well the failure to address the issue of sexual abuse by the clergies. Catholic church is up for a major war against internal and external forces, and their survival will be dependent on their stand on some of the most controversial topics of the modern times.

Just recently, the head of the 1.2 billion strong Catholic church - Pope Francis - set a new tone in religious discussions by warning its faithfuls against too much "obsession towards divisive issues such as abortion, homosexuality and contraception". To be honest, this came to me a little bit as a surprise, but it didn't come to me as shocking. Pope Francis seems to be much more honest and open to its flock by being more communicative (or rather provocative)  in various socio-political contentions.

I wonder how is this going to impact the nation's obsession towards the Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill) with the Philippine Catholic church being in the forefront of the defense against the approval of the controversial bill. The CBCP is probably scratching their heads right now and thinking how they are going to attack the issue with their head going against the grain this time. But one thing is for sure, Pope Francis clearly made a decisive action of changing how non-Catholics view the once hegemonic and antiquated religious domination. For once, many are seeing a window for reforms for the ailing institution.

But personally, for me the greatest war the Catholic church should focus right now is the decreasing population of its flock, second would be the failure to address the negative criticism towards the clergy and the institution itself, and lastly, the failure to evolve vis-a-vis the ever-changing socio-political landscape.

The rise of disagreeing believers and their shift towards the more upbeat and contemporary denominations is probably not hurting the Catholic church that much, but if left unseen, would definitely hurt further the already bleeding core of its spiritual foundation. The rise of Christian Fellowships are more appealing to the young and the skeptics/liberals. Tired Catholics who are probably bummed by its antiquated dogmas and long sermons are easily swayed by the more modern VCF (Victory Christian Fellowship) and CCF (Christ Commission Fellowship) which harness the power of social media and youth as a community empowerment as their unique value proposition.

I have to admit these groups are winning this side of war and the Catholic church must turn their blind eye towards this minor burn. These fellowships have found the weaknesses of the church who has been for thousands of years became one of the most dominant forces in the world - spiritual evangelization, the rationale of sainthood, the idolism.

For the next succeeding engagement with the press, I am hoping that the Pope would devote his time to shift his gear towards retaining the remaining faithfuls. It is high time for the high priest to center the faith once again, ultimately to Jesus Christ. It must once again evangelize its flock and reignite the waning spirit, the true meaning of salvation and explain the role of saints in their faith. It's too early to tell whether Pope Francis is going to turn more tables in the upcoming months of his leadership, but one thing is for sure, the Catholic church is now engaging to to the world, in an effort to promote transparency in its governance and hierarchy, to address the heated debated of sexual abuse and corruption, and under the helm of Pope Francis, it has a lot of explaining to do.

And with the Pope being more open to the press and the public, it is yet another clear impression of a shifting mood that will definitely resonate around the corners of its cathedrals and around the world.

I wonder what's next with the CBCP. We have our own set of problems to deal with in the first place.

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