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A Humble Suggestion for the College of Cardinals

blogging with thiara and boa

image: twolf1

The respected James Martin, SJ caught my attention yesterday with his open letter to the college of cardinals in the Jesuit’s America magazine entitled “Why I Should Be Pope.” He notes that the cardinals have a tough job in front of them, and may not even know each other very well, or even be able to identify each other without a scorecard: “Besides, everyone sort of looks the same: gray hair, red hat, glasses. It’s hard to keep them straight, no matter how many of those handy “Who’s Who” charts you might have studied.” To help them out, he offers a simple solution: himself.

The Roman Catholic Church could do a lot worse than Father Martin, who would take the name John Paul Benedict I (see reason #12).

But he got me thinking.

Things are in a real tough place for the Roman Catholic church, from the scandal of bishops protecting priests who sexually abused children from the law to the non-transparency of the Vatican Bank that is putting their relationship with major EU banks in jeopardy to liturgical translation battles and other worship wars to . . . well, you get the idea. What is needed is something — someone — really outside the box. Someone that will capture the attention of the world. Someone whose selection will be so out-of-the-blue that it could only be seen as a miracle, an act of God.

Someone like me.

I laughed when kuvasz suggested it, but after prayerfully reflecting on things, well . . .

OK, I’m Lutheran and not Roman Catholic, and ordinarily that would be a really big problem. But that’s the point. How could anyone imagine a group of Roman Catholic cardinals selecting a Lutheran as pope? Inconceivable! Why, it’s as crazy as Jesus getting a bunch of fishermen together and telling them “Peter, James, John . . . through you and your friends, God is going to change the world.”

Then there’s the fact that I’m married (Mrs Dr Peterr rocks!) and not celibate (we’ll just leave the details out on that one, OK?). Not exactly what the Catholic Church has been preaching these days. But given how that’s been working out for them lately, maybe returning to an older practice might be in order. If it worked for the first pope (see Matt. 8:14-17, Mk. 1:29-31, and Lk. 4:38), why not the next one? Indeed, 1 Timothy 3 (New  Jerusalem Bible) says this about bishops:

Husband of one wife, he must be temperate, discreet and courteous, hospitable and a good teacher; not a heavy drinker, nor hot-tempered, but gentle and peaceable, not avaricious, a man who manages his own household well and brings his children up to obey him and be well-behaved: how can any man who does not understand how to manage his own household take care of the Church of God?

Sure, having a married pope would be a something that the Roman Catholic church hasn’t seen in centuries, but the same can be said of having a living former pope. And maybe, just maybe, having a married non-celibate pope would shock the world enough that people might start talking honestly with one another about sex and reproduction and relationships, and doing more than just looking at a dry, legal, authoritarian “Do this . . . don’t do that . . .” lists of rules put forth by old celibate unmarried men for insight into how we ought to relate to one another, especially within a marriage.

But make no mistake: rules do have their place. Despite the scholarly wisdom I’ve just demonstrated, I will be the first to admit that there’s a lot of Catholic church history that I don’t know. On the other hand, I know a lot more about reporting rapists to the police rather than hiding them from view and dealing justly with those who were victimized by priests than such eminent cardinals as Roger Mahony, Timothy Dolan, Sean Brady, and Bernard Law do. I promise, should I be elected, to remedy the gaps in my knowledge of Catholic history. And I promise to do a better job of it than the USCCB has done with regard to handling those who have violated the laws regarding child abuse. (Yes, I’m talking about Bishop Finn of Kansas City and various Philadelphia folks as well. Why do you ask?)

Finally, I’d need to choose a papal name. If the college of cardinals should elect a Lutheran to be the next pope, there really is only one possible name: Pope Martin.

Wait a minute . . .

flips through history of the popes

There have been popes by that name in the past, though it fell out of favor after an unfortunate academic debate that got out of hand in 16th century Germany. The last pope to go by the name of Martin — Martin V, for those keeping score at home — was elected in 1471 after Pope Gregory XII resigned and his rival claimant Benedict XIII gave up his fight to claim St. Peter’s chair.

A pope named Martin after a papal resignation? It’s a sign, people.


image h/t to the incredible twolf. As Christy Hardin Smith noted several years ago,

You really haven’t blogged until you’ve written a post while wearing a tiara and a feather boa.  It’s “extreme blogging,” and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Should I be elected, I suppose I’ll need to get a white feather boa.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.