I wasn\’t particularly moved by the big crowds that cheered you in Rio, Francis, or by the babies you kissed–after all, John Paul II was as popular as a rock star and kissed plenty of third-world babies while telling their mothers that using condoms was a sin.
The dancing bishops did make me smile–they reminded me of those end-of-the-school-year shows put on by first-graders: http://youmedia.fanpage.it/video/aa/UfUh9eSwJ9iQ7Zxv
But then came the extraordinary press conference on the plane back to Rome, when you said about gay priests, \”If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?\”
That statement is being deconstructed all over the planet. Fundamentalists of all denominations will see it as an open door to the kind of relativism that leads souls straight to hell. Liberals, on the other hand, claim that you didn\’t go far enough. You didn\’t declare yourself in favor of gay marriage. You didn\’t contradict your predecessor\’s decrees about the inherent sinfulness of homosexuality.
You didn\’t go far enough for me either. But the humble tone of that \”who am I to judge?\” was so unexpected, so revolutionary, that it makes me think you might just manage to keep the Church from going down the tubes.
Then you went and said that John Paul II had once and for all closed the doors of the priesthood to women.
You softened that by saying that we do not yet have a deep theology of woman in the Church. I\’m not sure what that means, but it implies that the theology of woman would be different from the theology of man, and I am suspicious of that. I know that men and women are different, but the emphasis on those differences, as opposed to the emphasis on their common humanity, has seldom worked to women\’s advantage. And in the long history of the Church the almost exclusive focus on difference has been disastrous.
You also said that you seek a greater role for women in the Church. But no matter what else you allow them, as long as women are barred from ordination they will continue to be second-class citizens.
One step forward, two steps back–but this is no time for dancing, Francisco. It\’s time to march directly towards what is right.