Pope Francis almost convinces me to return to church. He almost convinces me that the majority of priests are not bad priests.
The reason I no longer attend church is not because I am not a religious person. Quite the contrary, actually. Although my parents are of different religions, they raised me Catholic. I attended private parochial schools and college and, at one time, was quite active in the church.
And then I grew up.
I realized that somehow, either through some crazy phenomena or by design, that the Catholic church, my church, had become a haven for pedophile priests and The Vatican covered it up for many, many years.
A prior article I wrote summed up my feelings best,
I came to the conclusion long ago that a large part of the problem is that Catholic Priest are not allowed to marry. Sure there are a few married ones but that is because they transferred in from other faiths.
Somehow, either the Catholic Church got a reputation as some sort of smorgasbord for messed up Priests who are really pedophiles at heart to feed on their sick desires or somehow because Priests were not allowed to marry they attracted a certain type of person who had these screwed up qualities already inside then and then being around a bunch of children it all came out.
Not only did the Catholic church cover it up, they allowed it to continue because they simply moved these bad priests from parish to parish.
As a Catholic, even when I first started to become disillusioned, the Pope was someone that was held in the highest esteem. Godlike. So it’s no surprise that I was beyond excited when I had the opportunity to see Pope John Paul II in 1979 at Madison Square Garden.
During the reign of Pope Benedict XVI my feelings of disgust could not be contained. Pope Benedict professed to put an end to the covering up for bad priests but, in actuality, he was a large part of the problem.
I continued to pray on my own and would only go into a Church if I absolutely had to. Those occasions were usually for a funeral, and I managed to put aside my disdain and keep my opinions to myself out of respect for the deceased and their family.
Then something happened that almost made me change my mind. Pope Francis.
Pope Francis is a wonderful man. He believes in the word of God and his mission is to minister to the people. All people. He has shunned the material items that the Vatican wants him to have and has been the only Pope that I remember in my lifetime that seems determined to change the way the Church operates.
He has asked for forgiveness for the sex abuse committed by Catholic Priests and fully acknowledged the moral damage carried out by pedophile priests.
On Palm Sunday, as he had done in the past, Pope Francis has hopped off what is known as the “Popemobile” so that he can get close to the people, particularly the younger generation. He took photos and didn’t care that the photos would be shown on social media.
He also did not read his prepared homily and spoke from his heart.
Although it will take many years to filter out all the corruption that exists in the Vatican, it looks like Pope Francis is the man that can pave the way for change and may even convince me to return to the fold.