The New Evangelism and New Models
The Pope is talking a lot about the New Evangelism and even announced formation of a new office of such with Vatican standing to take back Europe from the abyss of secularism back to its roots. This is now being hailed as what will be viewed as one of the most significant contributions of Benoit XVI to the Papacy.
The problem that immediately jumps out and begs more questions and media clarity is -Will the Pope be open to new Models of Christian collective belief and expression or is it just a reactionary kick-back to all the things that turned off large parts of Europe from Catholicism in the first place. If you have half of your church defecting in violent revolts to form other Christian groups historically and a good portion of what's left so turned off they completely dumped Christ Himself embracing a political view of salvation, it obviously begs the question-what are you going to do different this time. Whenever the Secularization of Europe is discussed, and whenever anyone in particular mentions the European rejection of things Catholic or the anti-clericism of the French Revolution, for instance, they seem totally clueless about what rational people would find so offensive and objectionable to the practices that they had to banish all of them- or in the case of France- even engage in a vicious campaign to confiscate church properties, defrock clergy and even kill them. What would inspire a society to so react? Is it just the devil or is the church not looking at what inspired people to do that- people who in some cases previously were the "Pray, Obey, and Pay" lock step sheep of the fold?
I might suggest that there are at least three areas of internal church reform that has to take place if the 'post-christian' European world is to find any welcome for the Catholicism that drove some people in droves to America to escape from. It is a simple formula and derives from the nature of Christ himself- If Europe is to refind Christ- the church has to market Christ, not itself. Clearly much of Europe is foaming mad at or sick of the Church- note for example the recent LeMonde cartoon of the Pope sodomizing a boy. It's considered fair game, all things considered.
So this requires a greater fuller more honest examination regarding the personhood of Christ.
How did he treat people? How has the Church deviated from what Jesus himself was about.
The first most obvious point of contention will be how Europeans view women generally in the more modern wealthier countries and how the Church does with its intrinsic biases and deeply ingrained theologically twisted misogynies. Jesus never excluded any woman who came to him and defended their presence every time the chauvinists were mad they appeared or were hanging around. He valued them for more than the "Pray, Obey and Pay" church does in old Europe. The Feminist movement is routinely derided by the church in various ways and forms and it has to examine what is good about it-and embrace it. Women's equality is something that no one wants to back-pedal on.
Secondly, it has to look at it's own authority structures. The catholic church model of a college of octogenarian cardinals in pink yarmulkes (oh, excuse me-red, the Archbishops get the pink ones, I get it confused, because it all looks gay to me-lucky I love gays) telling all the rest of the world what Jesus is -and who can and cannot have him -is an outdated authority model and NOWHERE biblically mandated by anything that Jesus ever did or said. First, there is no indication that his
Apostles were all over 70, nor that they didn't have working lives and were in fact working men and women (many of them fishermen, Matthew was a tax collector, Paul a 'tent-maker' who insisted on making his own money for his missionary keep, etc.) The men in the movement were at the height of their working lives, their peak as vigorous vital men (John may have been a bit younger) and they were not required to dump their wives to join the fray.
That brings me to the Third Point- a chime I ring constantly, because I believe it at the root of the most major of perversions- that Priests in the New Evangelism have to be given the option and right to marry and raise families that are models of Christian living. The Roman church insists that they have a more profound view of holiness in not permitting married priests and I beg to differ. It is not a holiness that is a biblical view of holiness- it is a false asceticism that was flatly confronted by the writers of scripture and rejected- if you need the citations email me but I know you can find them. It fosters a priesthood not only detached, but aloof improperly in some cases, a priesthood that is forced to struggle with sexuality in ways creating martyrs of women- (Jesus never told the church to impale itself and call it holy)- and it will be and has been rejected by large portions of the Christian world in Europe and everywhere.
While Christ does call some to be "eunichs for the kingdom" it is a profound perversion to make eunichood the central organizing prideful principle of all higher religious authority - and flatly not biblical. Eunichs held special positions guarding the sexually vulnerable women in higher court life- they were not the rulers of the kingdom. Were that the case the Ethiopian eunich would never have spoken to a random jewish traveler hitchhiker.
If the church wants to truly bring Jesus back to Europe that has in many places kicked him out (because the church has been a bad Ambassador for Christ in past) then it MUST look at itself more deeply, and it must for God's sake- CHANGE to conform more to the likeness of Christ.