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Wow! What a week, sportsfans! I suppose you’ve heard the remarkable things Pope Francis has been saying lately, to wit:

  1. He doesn’t judge gay people. In fact, he seems to be promoting a more conciliatory and open-minded stance toward gays in and out of the Church.
  2. He feels that women need to be given a more prevalent place in the Church. While the Pope does not (yet) promote the idea of women priests, he feels that women need a greater voice in the Church, and a more participatory role. He went so far as to say that we need to recognize that Mary is more important than the apostles.
  3. He told the crowd in South America to “make noise” — that is, not to quietly accept complacency.
  4. He is thinking of ways to reach out to divorced Catholics, something that’s long been needed.

To call these remarks “mind-blowing” is to limit their power. What Francis is discussing is revolutionary. Power for women in the Church? Acceptance of gays? No more telling kids to quietly accept what the Church says whole-hog and without question? Boom! That’s talking change on a cellular level.

Many of us have longed for this kind of change for many years. To us, the words of our Pope are music, poetry, a dream come true. Of course, not everyone feels this way. Church conservatives are certainly cringing. And by conservatives, I mean the kind of Catholic who likes their Masses in Latin and their nuns docile. The kind of Catholic who liked Pope Benedict. The kind that wishes Vatican II hadn’t happened.

To these people, I would like to say, “I understand.” It’s hard to watch the head of the Roman Catholic Church say things you don’t want to hear. I had to put up with it for most of my life, so I know how upsetting it can be. But please, try to be happy for those of us who are cheering, up here in the cheap seats. We’ve felt marginalized for so long. Words like Francis’ — hopefully backed up by actions — will bring disaffected Catholics home. It will keep our children in the faith. And we need that.

So hip, hip, hooray for Pope Francis! He’s opening the doors and yanking up the windows. Soon a fresh, new breeze will be blowing through our beloved Church. I can’t wait.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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