Although it is always a possibility to become Pope and CEO of one of the world’s largest churches once one enters the Catholic priesthood, I can only imagine the enormity of the tasks that await Pope Francis I, who at the age of 76 and with only one lung is already at a considerable disadvantage compared to some of the younger and fitter Cardinals. I thought it might be interesting on the day of his inauguration to take a look at his “To Do” list.
Choose a name
Set the tone
Sort out the neighbours
Gardening — weeding
Discipline the kids
Jorge Mario Bergoglio has already chosen his Papal name — Francis… or Francisco — deliberately choosing to be named after St Francis of Assisi, who lived a life of poverty and who is the Patron Saint of animals and of the environment.
He further set the tone with his remark where he called Francis of Assisi, “the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man,” and added: “Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor.”
Now to the “Laundry” — in this particular case The Magdalene Laundries of Ireland where the Catholic Church supervised and was complicit in the “enslavement” of thousands of Irish girls and young women without due process, in appalling workhouse conditions where they were dehumanised, bullied and then flung in mass graves at the end of their lives. After a recent report and investigation at the highest level the Irish Government as at last apologised for its part in this sorry affair — now it is time for the Catholic Church to accept that its behaviour was also wrong and to apologise too.
Sex Education for the kids — You have a lot of hard work to do here. The ministers of your church need to understand that sexual activity with a minor of any sex or age is a crime and will be prosecuted as a crime.
Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, the Catholic Archbishop of Durban might consider paedophilia as an illness, but it is an illness that has no cure and so the paedophile must be quarantined from society. The first duty of any society is to protect their children. Jail is the safest place for these offenders.
The priests also broke their vows of celibacy. If the church does not consider a vow made to God by a priest as sacred, then what is?
While we are talking sex education — you need to look at your policies on Contraception and AIDS/HIV – and the use of the condom in preventing unwanted pregnancy and in the prevention of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. I suggest you take a look at the misery in Africa caused by AIDS.
Last, but not least, there is the thorny issue of the neighbours. Your country of birth Argentina is once again having a spat with the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands – Islas Malvinas and you have been asked to intervene. You are on record as saying “Britain ‘usurped’ the remote islands from Argentina.” Please note here that, earlier this month, the islanders voted overwhelmingly to remain a British Overseas Territory. Tread carefully on this thorny path.
I humbly suggest Papa Francisco that if you want to keep your church relevant that you once and for all grab the bull by the horns and put your house in order, address the crimes you are charged with, make restitution if need be, and make it clear that such crimes will no longer be tolerated in your church, and move out of your Ivory Tower and move forward with compassion for the human condition.