What I Want in a New Pope

Written By: Kim - Mar• 11•13

The Catholic Church’s cardinals are in conclave. Starting tomorrow, they will begin voting on a new pope. Here’s are three things I want our new pope to seriously consider.

Swiss Guards protect the Vatican and the pope. ©Mike Howard

Swiss Guards protect the Vatican and the pope. ©Mike Howard

1. A true role and voice for women. I understand the Catholic church’s long history of men running the show. But, there are no women in positions of power at the Vatican. There, I said it out loud. My local church still stands and lightening has not struck me (yet). It’s about time that the men who run the Catholic church let the women who comprise a large portion their flock have a direct voice to the pope. There is something inane about a group of celibate, single men telling women how to do things. I am not suggesting that the church drastically change it’s stance on issues overnight. I am simply suggesting that women have a direct voice to the church’s CEO: the pope. When you surround yourself with people just like you, you have limited perspective. I don’t care how holy you are. I am simply asking that you expand your horizons.

2. A voice for abuse victims. Some of you created it. Many of you overlooked it. The church condemned it but only after news agencies caught wind of it. Do not let this happen again. Ever. VIRTUS training is only a starting point. Stop protecting your own and turn them in to the local police. Defrock them once they are found guilty. It’s really pretty simple.

3. Look ahead instead of becoming steeped in tradition. As with any CEO, the board of directors, shareholders and employees expect you to be able to see around corners. Tradition is nice for ceremonies, but that’s about it. Look ahead a decade or two and decide where the Catholic church needs to go.

A True Open Door Policy

Written By: Kim - Feb• 17•13

My daughter plays basketball for our church’s youth league. Because our gym is two inches smaller than the specs for older children to play upon, we spend a lot of time during basketball season traveling around Northern Virginia. We were at a parish in yesterday. We arrived with plenty of time to spare. I am directionally challenged and often make wrong turns even with a GPS. I always try to allow for extra time just in case.

Once the gym was open, the team ventured inside to warm up. I walked over to the church to see what it was like inside and to grab 10 minutes of peace. The church is fairly new. The copper bell tower has not even weathered yet. It was still bright and shiny, even on an overcast, cold winter day.

©Kim Howard 2013

©Kim Howard 2013

When I finished my prayers, I quickly snapped a picture of the alter at St. Theresa’s. While places of worship vary in their majesty, what I often marvel at the open door policy. You would be hard pressed to find a locked church door in the US. When we vacationed in Italy, the church doors were open as well. I suspect that you will find this policy world wide. I also suspect the attitude about open doors includes synagogues and mosques. There are valuable items inside a place of worship yet the doors are always open. But the regulars understand there is something more valuable than the material things. I am talking about the openness; the quietness; the ability to reflect, pray and quite frankly, decompress.

I don’t pretend to know all the tenants of my faith. Catholicism is not only steeped in tradition, it has also been marred by controversy and scandal of its own doing. But when I enter a church, my time there becomes about my relationship with God. To be honest, I am just glad the rafters don’t cave in. While I have not committed heinous acts, I am not always a good Christian. I just keep on trying to be better. The trappings of the building do not matter. Some would argue that the building is not even necessary. I disagree. I believe that worshipping as a community brings a huge benefit to all those involved. Your faith is never about “them” it’s about you and your God.

So, if you have pondered what would happen if you entered a church, synagogue or mosque, never fear. The roof will stay in tact. What matters is that you have made the journey to be open, quiet, reflective, prayerful and yes, even to find some peace. The journey starts with the first step.