The short answer is “Of course he is!” Why would I ask? The recent papal election has brought forward a very interesting discussion about the church and the Pope himself.
Some very important world newspapers, some famous journalists and even some of our own faithful were speculating, and even demanding, that the next Pope should be of a certain persuasion. He, for instance, had to support: same sex unions, abortion, divorce, and even allow women to be ordained priests. Clearly all of these things are contrary to Catholic teaching. Clearly they will not be on the agenda of any cardinal, bishop, priest, or for that matter, on the mind of any serious thinking Catholic lay person.
Why would you then even imagine that any future Pope would have these things on his personal agenda? Why would you demand that he should? Why would you be shocked when the new Pope doesn’t even think of these things? He is a Catholic! Why would we be surprised that the Catholic Church elected a Catholic as Pope?
When I woke up the morning after the Pope had been elected during the night in Europe, the first headline I heard and saw in the media was that the Catholic Church had failed again; the new Pope was against same sex unions! Again, Hello! He is a Catholic. What did you expect?
There obviously has been a lack of religious education in recent times. People, even our own, think that the church somehow has shifted, and changed what it used to believe in as the truth. For that matter some think that it has now become a democracy whereby the teaching of the church is decided by popular opinion, rather than on what Jesus Christ said and what our founders have said about it. The Catholic Church tries very hard to teach what is in the Bible. It follows a tradition which over time has proven to be the will of God.
There are churches in the world that follow popular opinion. Their doctrine is basically what the people want it to be. I know of a popular church which actually put baptism up for a vote. The congregation decided to make it optional. This does not happen within the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Pope has room to move and to be creative. At his inauguration he rejected pomp and circumstance; told world leaders and all of us to be compassionate and to look after those whom were are in charge of. He challenged us to rediscover the real teaching of Jesus’ Church and to seek the truth through the Holy Spirit.
I think all of us should be ready to face the challenges which our Catholic Pope will bring to us during his pontificate.
By Bishop Peter Stasiuk
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