I laughed as I drove home from my work whilst listening to BBC Radio 4 “The Now Show” presented by Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis when one of them asked “Is the Pope a Catholic?” – audience laughter – “No, I mean it really, is the Pope a Catholic?”
This question is usually posed when we are trying to alleviate concerns in someones mind about the truth of what we are saying.
The humour of the second emphasis in “The Now Show” was in regard to the fact that Pope Francis is saying such radical things on various topics ranging from homosexuality, abortion, poverty, humility, mafia, bank corruption to name but a few!
It feels to those outside the Catholic Church and those whom have become separated from it that somehow this pope is different to his predecessors, particularly Pope Benedict XVI (my favourite Pope because of his courage and humility in stepping down)
As far as I can tell, this Pope has not changed a single doctrine of the church, nor would I particularly want him to – what he has done is make the church open to all those who want to become close to Christ.
For me there are three fundamentals to my faith which if they were to change would make me question if I was in fact still in the Catholic Church, these are as follows:
1. Does the Church preach the Gospel of Christ and teach that Christ rose from the dead (The Resurrection)
2. Does the Church teach that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist (Bread and Wine consecrated into the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist) (Known as Transubstantiation)
3. Is the priest who is saying Mass in obedience to a Bishop who is in obedience to the Pope (Successor of Peter)
If the answer to all three is yes, even if I don’t understand a word that is said (e.g on holiday abroad) , I am in the right place!
I am so pleased that Pope Francis is making the heart of the faith accessible to sinners and to rich and poor, straight and gay, hungry and fed and that he is placing our focus on our own need for Christ and on humility and poverty.
On my own journey of discovery to self acceptance I have come to realise that God made me as I am with all my good qualities and imperfections and that on my journey which has its origins in guilt and fear, my faith has stayed in tact – rock solid in fact.
If you have similarly felt separated from your faith because of your unique qualities and sinfulness, add a spiritual dimension to your life to support your physical and mental dimensions.
My next blog will be: You Only Live Once