[Crosspost from here: http://letreasonreign.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/advice-for-pope-francis-i/]. Visit letreasonreign for more caustic commentary on religion.
In most matters (with one exception I will get to), here’s my advice, one moving picture worth a thousand words:
Lighten up on your priests. Let them marry. (You are willing to let Anglicans who cross over be married, so clearly there isn’t a real issue of dogma involved here.)
Lighten up on women and allow them to be priests. That is if any actually want to be. The way you’ve treated women in your church, I can’t imagine why they would.
Lighten up on homosexuals. Why out of the huge raft of Levitican law that mostly got swept under the rug by Jesus and St. Paul, does that one verse about homosexuality stand? You’re allowed to eat shellfish and wear blended fabrics. Why is this rule the one you can’t claim Jesus superseded?
Lighten up and allow birth control. I realize that to you abortion is a murder, plain and simple, and I won’t insult the intelligence of anyone reading this expecting you to condone something you consider to be murder. But what is the reason not to prevent conception from happening in the first place? And in a continent riddled with AIDS like Africa is, what’s the rationale for trying to convince people not to use condoms?
On these issues and many others, my advice is to Lighten up, Francis.
But there is one issue I don’t want you to lighten up on. The Vatican has been entirely too light on this issue for decades, if not centuries. And it needs to crack down on it with the weight of 2000 years of history.
And that’s pedophiliac clerics. Instead of defrocking them and handing them over to the civil authorities, you transfer them to another parish–another group of young boys–or even whisk them out of the country. I’m told Nunavut, Canada, is your North American dumping ground for troublesome altar-boy-buggering priests. Were I Catholic and in Nunavut for the weekend… I’d skip Mass. Bishops and cardinals are involved in covering this up. It’d be far worse, after all, for the Catholic Church to get egg on its face than for justice to be done.
But this is all too typical, a church whose priorities and teachings are inverted almost every single time, hard core on the things that one should be light on, and utterly worthless at attacking truly despicable behavior.
The only thing you haven’t got totally wrong is evolution and an old universe; you are all in favor of actual science from time to time, certainly far more than the protestant fundamentalists we have here in the United States. But I suppose you could flip on this and give the Catholic Church a perfect–perfectly awful– record on everything.