I’m not a very religious man. I was raised a Catholic but by the time I reached high school logic began driving me away from the church. As the church began to dig its heels in on issues like contraception, homosexuality, and abortion, I became completely disillusioned.
I have to admit I have been very impressed with the new pope, Pope Francis. He seems genuinely open to reform and has made a number of rather startling statements, given the position of his predecessors, suggesting support of gay marriage, of priestly marriage, etc. The Vatican has recently sent out a questionnaire to their priests globally asking a series of questions in advance of a planned meeting of the bishops in 2015. (Article.)
This questionnaire asked things like: How can we best provide spiritual guidance to same sex couples? Have we marginalized members who are divorced and/or remarried? These kinds of questions were unheard of just a few years ago and mark a significant turning point in the church’s tolerance of different life style choices, sexual orientation, etc. I also find it interesting to consider the impact this questionnaire will have on the clergy around the world. It will be two years before the meeting of the bishops and that gives them two years to readjust their thinking. Very smart process from a change management perspective.
Finally, you have to wonder what impact a revitalized, more tolerant Catholic church will have on the other Christian religions. Historically one of the most conservative Christian branches is it possible that barely tolerated Christian groups, like gay couples, will switch? Will this cause other sects to reevaluate their positions on central issues like homosexuality, contraception, abortion, divorce, women in the priesthood, etc. Will I possibly see a relevant Catholic Church in my lifetime?