9:45 AM EST, February 27, 2013
The Roman Catholic Church is at the most perplexing time in it's storied, at times sordid, history. For the first time in more than 600 years, a pope has chosen to retire, due mostly to deteriorating health issues. Is that truly the most prominent reason for his very hasty departure? I think not.
The church faces myriad pressing issues, most notably worldwide sexual molestation at the hands of Roman Catholic priests. Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland abruptly stepped down amid allegations he had sexual liaisons with young priests 20 years ago.
This would have been a perfect and fitting opportunity for the Vatican to begin an immediate and transparent turn-around. It could have admitted the allegations the cardinal has been accused of. Instead, The Vatican issued a statement which, in essence, avoided controversy about MR. O'Brien by stating he was of retirement age. This carries the same stench the Vatican has been issuing for decades. The church needs to make an earth-shaking selection regarding the new pope. The future of the church hangs ever so precariously in the balance.
There are some icy waters that separate the Roman Catholic Church in the United States from the Vatican. There are troves of information about U.S. priests who broke their vows by engaging in sexual episodes with young men, most in their formative teen years This information needs to be released for public perusal and consumption. Until then the church will be firmly and permanently ensconced in mystery, suspicion and half-truths.
The Vatican is one of the most secretive entities in the world. The only way to proceed is to elect a pope who agrees to total and immediate transparency. Is the Vatican up for this crucial challenge?
The next selection of a pope to succeed Benedict XVI should be one that sends shock waves throughout the Roman Catholic world. The church is desperately in need of an open-minded person (no, I did not specify gender).The worst outcome by the Vatican would be to elect another aged male of European extract. That would only signal that the church is digging its heels in to continually deflect the truth about past and current indiscretions.
Although I was born and raised a Roman Catholic, I no longer attend church. I have not lost my faith, just faith in the men in cloth who represent the church.
The mind-set in the hierarchy among the vacuum-tight Vatican has to cease. The time is nigh for the church to take a radical new direction. Why not elect someone from the United States? Will that person have the mettle and strength to come face-to-face with the very critical issues that face the church? Obviously Benedict felt he couldn't handle the boiling-pot state of the Vatican. Smoke will once again spew from the chimney in Vatican City. The world awaits.
Patrick R. Lynch, Nottingham
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun