The Roman Catholic Church is having a mental breakdown. Much of this is due, of course, to the child abuse cases and the hierarchy's arrogant and immoral handling of these cases. But there's more.
Just this year, two children have been dropped from Catholic schools because their parents are lesbians; Marquette University, a Jesuit institution, took back its offer to a gay sociologist to serve as dean at one of its colleges; and American bishops are punishing nuns who had the temerity to follow their own consciences as opposed to the bishops' dictates on a legal interpretation of one aspect of the health care bill.
Meanwhile, Pope Benedict has made ethical capitalism one of the cornerstones of his papacy; some American bishops are taking strong stands against the rush to dehumanize immigrants; and others are fighting against nuclear expansion. And Catholic groups are working, as they've always done, for the poor and vulnerable
Who in hell do we root for, anyway?
I'd like to propose a new Vatican Council, one that is needed for the Church but also for the world, as it would benefit greatly from an application of traditional Catholic values presented by a reinvigorated Church.
The Council should be in the spirit of celebration and conciliation, not of punishment or recrimination. It should examine the major world problems: nuclear arms, inequality, the hatred of religions toward each other.
The Church should then seek to examine its own structure so it can best help to bring together the multiple and hostile elements that are often the cause and not the solution of world problems.
The place to start is with the role of women in the Church. I have never seen any rational reason why a woman could not be a priest. Why can't this be openly discussed? Will St. Peter's sink into the Tiber if it is?
A second point is the theme of sex. Sex comes from God. It should be celebrated. Gay sex comes from God. Married sex without the intent of procreation is now an evil, according to the hierarchy. But does any practicing Catholic under age 80 believe this? And in a pluralistic nation like America, we must realize that abortion is here to stay. We must examine the reasons for abortion and deal with those reasons to reduce abortions.
There is much else that needs discussion.
But one last important point is that the council must be held in the spirit of John Paul and of America's secular saint -- Abraham Lincoln. The spirit that animated those magnificent men must guide the new Vatican Council.