This week, religion has been in the news quite a bit. The pope trumped all by saying that issues around GLBT (did he also say Q?) folk and abortion should not dominate the whole religious conversation when there are poor to think about. Jesus said we will always have the poor. So, Pope Francis was on the same page as Jesus and the same page as the Jesuits have been for quite some time. Good for him.
In the United Church of Christ, we have been saying for a long time that gender issues are inconsequential - and I believe the my God loves everyone - even me. In the United Church of Christ, we hear that choice is good and while most would not say just go have an abortion without thought, in the long run it is between a woman, her physician, and if around, the father of the baby (FOB). We would say, learn safe sex and have sex when you are adult enough to make wise decisions and when you are capable of caring for a child should one be conceived. We also advocate for informed birth control.
I don’t preach about these. The women (and men) in my congregation are past child-bearing years. Now we talk more about how we want to end our lives including our end-of-life treatment and informed consent. I do preach about these.
Recently a congregation member said I was brave to preach what I was taught in seminary. I think if I did not, it would be foolish - why spend all that intense time (not to mention the money) then leave the learning behind?
My pondering is this: am I more or less brave than Pope Francis who astounded people with his comments on GLBT and abortion - for his awareness that poverty is of more potential harm than GLBT people and abortion. He did not go far enough to say teach the young responsible sexual practices. Nor did he say that priests could marry - he did say women don’t belong in the church (that was months ago) in positions of authority. According to Sister Simone Campbell in this week’s issue of Time the pope thinks women should be consulted - but he likens them to Mary, the mother of Jesus. I am reminded that in Jewish society, women were not seen and not heard.
In the Pope’s talk, he is in a position to bring many lapsed or angry Catholics back to the church. That is a good thing. In my church, when I say “pope-ly” things such as GLBTQ are welcome as are all of God’s people, the congregation shrinks. Though they probably do not know I am pro-choice I know for sure that they do not know that I ran an agency dedicated to helping pregnant and parenting teens. That we gave out information on responsible sex and condoms (told how to use them). That we did not throw those who tried and failed out of our program, but we worked with them to become better parents to their children who were growing up in single-parent households in the poverty that hems in teen parents.
The pope gets praised; my clergy group and I are looked on with suspicion. We can wait until the culture changes and hope that the church will change right along with the times. Or, for me especially, I can try to be known as a “pope-ess." Would that I could be as valuable to the religious and the spiritual-but-not-religious as he has been in this short time.