Pope Benedict XVI has announced his decision to retire. Let’s hope that the Catholic Church will get a liberal and visionary Pope.
Benedict XVI was one of the most conservative popes of the recent times. He failed to tackle certain important issues that rocked the church, particularly related to sexual matters. The Church’s attitude to homosexuality has always remained ultra-conservative and Benedict XVI did not help to understand the issue in any intelligent light. The issue of priests’ marriage was shelved conveniently even when the misdeeds of many priests, particularly instances of paedophilia, rocked the Church many a time. The ordination of women as priests was not given due consideration.
A year before Benedict XVI was anointed the Pope, he was described as his predecessor’s “Grand Inquisitor” by theologian Hans Kung. Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) together persecuted many theologians who advocated liberal and sensible approaches to contemporary problems. Under their leadership, the Catholic Church remained one of the most obscurantist religions in the late 20th century.
There’s much that a good Pope can do for the Church. In his history of the Catholic Church Hans Kung suggests that the Church should support:
· a social world order: a society in which human beings have equal rights, live in solidarity with one another, and in which the ever-widening gulf between rich and poor is bridged;
· a plural world order: a reconciled diversity of cultures, traditions and peoples...
· a world order in partnership: a renewed fellowship of men and women in the church and society...
· a world order which furthers peace
The Church has always remained a very narrow institution with unabashed holier-than-thou attitudes. A broad-minded Pope can make the Church a meaningful and relevant institution in the 21st century.