Thursday, April 14, 2005

What should the next pope do?

News stories about the papal election often bring up the topics of what Catholics are hoping for from the next pope. What direction should he take the Church in? What should he change?
Sometimes, though, people seem to think that the Pope can just decide to change essential Catholic teachings on controversial issues, especially moral issues like abortion and sexual morality.
But those teachings ultimately come from God, and the Pope has the task of being a prophetic voice to proclaim those teachings to the Church and the world. The Pope can't change basic moral principles. As new questions come up, such as in bioethics, the Pope can give guidance on how some procedures may or may not be compatible with basic moral principles. But he can't change those principles themselves.
The Pope gets his authority from Christ, who is the supreme Priest, Prophet and King. Like any prophet, though, he has to proclaim the truth even when there's opposition to it. In other words, the Pope can't take his direction from the latest polls. He has to look to Christ and the Gospel.


Joanne said...

Not so much change as strengthen certain teachings:

1. Sanctity of marriage
2. Purgatory and our duty to pray for the souls of the departed.
3. Coming to terms with our own sinfulness. Modern western thought can't seem to reconcile our sinful nature with our self worth. If we saw ourselves as God sees us, as beings worthy of His love despite our sinfulness, we would finally "get it."

Teresa O'Neal said...

I agree with Joanne. I thought Pope John Paul II was an excellent pope, but I would like to see more done to strengthen marriages. Marriages face a lot of negative pressure from our culture, and I am amazed at what what I ho-hum attitude people take toward divorce. An anullment should be a very rare thing, and Catholics need to understand that an anulment is not a Catholic divorce.