What I Want From Catholics

What I Want From Catholics October 29, 2015

My wish list for Catholics is terribly old-fashioned and terribly assertive. There’s hardly space here to defend my positions or thoroughly critique the Catholic position. So, this may end up sounding like a drive-by shooting or a childish tantrum. I trust that I can formulate my wish list with enough calmness that it doesn’t turn it into a bitch list.

I want the Pope to give up his claim to infallibility. In our day, the Papacy stands as a global symbol of Christian faith, and Popes of recent decades have been among the greatest Christian leaders of recent history. The Pope is a universal teacher, a stout defender of Christian morals, a living icon of charity, a father to princes and presidents. None of that makes him a definer of dogma. No matter how narrowly tailored papal infallibility may be, it is theologically and historically unfounded, as Lord Acton knew.

I want the Pope to give up his claim to exclusive primacy. Why not be content with being primus inter pares among the ancient sees? Suppose Peter was the first Bishop of Rome: Didn’t he leave it to Paul to lead the mission to the Gentiles? Besides, should we not be open to the possibility that the center of Christian gravity will shift dramatically in the future? In 3000 years, might not the Bishop of Beijing or Lagos or Brasilia be the actual primate of the church? In 10,000 years, will Vatican-centered Christendom be anything more than a distant memory?

I want Catholics to give up their sectarian exclusiveness. Jesus and His Spirit are present in the suburban Bible church, the Chinese house group, the Pentecostal assembly at one of Rio’s garbage dumps. The Son and Spirit have promised to be wherever word is preached and bread broken, where disciples strive together toward maturity in Christ. These assembles are no less churches than the congregation of St. Patrick’s. Fellowship with Rome is not the same as fellowship with Jesus; submission to Rome is not the same as catholicity. Jesus and His Spirit do not observe Vatican protocols.

The rant continues here.

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