My first thought was, We are all Gods hands on this earth. Maybe the malcontents are actually God speaking to Church leadership and telling them they need to shape up.
My second reactions is that sometimes we don't recognize the help God sends to us.
I am reminded of the story of a man who was stranded during a flood. Before he was stranded, a policeman came to his door and told him to evacuate.
The man said, "God will take care of me."
The flood waters rose to his doorstep and then into his house.
This was a Katrina like flood so eventually the flood waters rose up to the second floor of his house. Finally he was forced to poke a hole in his roof and pull himself onto the roof.
As he was standing on the roof, a policeman in a boat came by and offered him a ride to safety.
"No thank you," the man said, "God will take care of me."
Finally the flood lifted his house off of it's foundations, and it began to float down river.
At this point a policeman in a helicopter, having heard reports form the policemen in the patrol car and the boat, knew there was a man remaining behind, found him and hovered his chopper over the man's house. The crew on the helicopter lowered a ladder for the man to climb up.
He declined, saying, "God will take care of me."
Eventually the house broke up in the flood, and the man drowned and died and went to heaven.
When he met St. Peter at the Pearly Gates he asked, "I don't understand what happened. I had faith in the Lord, but He didn't save me."
St. Peter asked, "We tried to save you, but you turned down the policeman in the patrol car, the boat, and the helicopter.
I feel as though the leadership of the Church is like this man who drowned after turning down God's help in multiple forms. What if the voice of all of us dissidents is God's message to the leadership of the Church that they need to change?
I am sorry to say, but I think the leadership of the Catholic Church is drowning right now and will continue to drown. However, I remain faithful to the prayers and rituals and the saints which I find inspirational and comforting. They have grown out of 2000 years of Catholic Christians seeking a closer connection to God. I pray very Catholic prayers every day. I attend Mass as often as my hectic life allows. I don't think I am anti-Catholic. Rather I want the Church to live up to its potential.
Hey Cardinals electing a Pope right now, this is my advice.
You simply cannot build a Church by fighting clergy abuse survivors in court, by covering up abuses and by protecting priests and bishops. You cannot build a Church by putting lots of energy into making all abortions illegal, by changing around prayers to try to make closer to the precise words in Greek or Latin, or by denying communion to Catholic Democratic politicians.
You can rebuild a Church by caring for survivors, by holding Church leaders accountable for wrongdoing, by supporting women in ways that make abortions unnecessary -- support them with food, housing and medical care through pregnancies and after the baby is born, by supporting the mother through labor (Have you ever thought of how hard it would be to get yourself to the hospital by yourself when you are in labor? I did it with the help of a husband. I can't imagine doing it alone.), by helping single mothers with babysitting after the baby is born, by helping with education and jobs, and by not turning single, pregnant women into pariahs. You can rebuild the Church by allowing for a little poetry in prayers to draw people in to the beauty of prayer. You can rebuild the Church by keeping Catholic doctrine separate from politics and state. You can rebuild the Church by not trying to control every thought and every action of every person. That is abusive. You can rebuild the Church by finding inspiration in your own history and tradition. Follow the example of St. Francis in inclusion. Follow the examples of Mother Theresa in charity. Follow the example of Maximillian Kolbe in self sacrifice. Follow the example of Dorothy Day in devotion to social justice.
Just a little advice from a single, divorced mother malcontent who has never been a priest but loves the Church anyway.
Copyright (c) 2013 Virginia Pickles Jones