Pope Francis has been a bit of a controversial figure since assuming the highest position in the Catholic Church back in 2013.
He also managed to draw the ire of then-candidate Donald Trump, who was not pleased at what he perceived to be shade thrown his way by the world’s most prominent Catholic.
And now, he has ventured into territory that is guaranteed to generate an incredible amount of controversy.
According to reports, Pope Francis has said he would consider allowing older married men in isolated communities to join the Priesthood, something that would forever change one of the Church’s most longstanding traditions.
In the Pope’s defense, the amount of Catholics over the past three decades has increased by 57% while the amount of Priests has decreased by 17%. This indicates a resistance of Catholics to enlist as a Priest, something which could become a much larger problem if it is not ironed out at some point in the future.
It is assumed that pushback against this idea will be strong, but it may not be as fierce as some would expect.
If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense.
Now, to be fair, I’m a Jewish man. This is not news to anybody who knows me or has read anything I’ve ever written. Therefore, I want to make it clear that I am in no way trying to tell Catholics what they should and shouldn’t do, nor am I being critical of the faith in any way.
With that in mind, however, it has to be recognized that lifetime celibacy – especially in this day and age – is a lofty goal, but not something that is going to appeal to a lot of people. By continuing this requirement, it stands to reason that a lot of great people who could have been valuable members of the Priesthood – as well as terrific assets to the Church and community writ large - will choose different paths for themselves.
From my own experience, I know how great a religious leader can be for faith and community. I have known and attended Temple with so many excellent Rabbis over the years. These men were great ambassadors to my faith, but they also provided invaluable life guidance to a large number of men and women who needed it over the years. It would have been a shame if they had chosen to go a different way simply because they were not allowed to have families.
All of that said, you may be asking yourself, “What on earth does a Jewish man care about what the Catholic Church does?”
Truthfully, for all of the scandals the Church has endured, it has done a lot of great charitable work, even for those who are not of the faith. While I respect everybody’s right to be religious or non-religious, there is no denying that religious organizations have been an immense help to those in need, which should always be encouraged.
The Church may have its issues, but like many other religions, it fulfills a very important societal role for those in desperate need of help that have nowhere else to turn.
The world is a better place when the Church is an option for the downtrodden.
So perhaps this is a change worth considering.
Because the alternative may be a terrible Priest shortage. And if that happens, nobody wins.