CHURCH RELEVANCE IN THE 21ST CENTURY

On Sunday, Pope Francis I, with the help of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, canonized two of their predecessors–Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.  John XXIII and John Paul II represent the Liberal and Conservative Elements of Catholicism, respectively.  But, were the two deceased Popes declared Saints for Ecclesiastical or Political reasons? And, why simultaneously?

Francis appears to be walking that fine line between maintaining Vatican Tradition and Common Sense.  While not necessarily offending the Roman Curia’s functions, he has gradually been refining them and little-by-little diminishing their importance.  At the same time, he has gained fans Worldwide–both within the Church and without–by attempting to formulate a vision that is realistic and forward-looking.

Going back to the question of whether the joint Canonization was more for political or ecclesiastical reasons, will we ever know?  Floribeth Mora Diaz, a Costa Rican Woman, was cured after praying to John Paul, and that became one of the Miracles necessary for him to become a Saint.  So, if praying to him before Canonization was beneficial, what has changed now that he is a Saint?

I do not doubt in any way that John XXIII and John Paul II were great Men.  John convened Vatican Council II, which transformed the Church by changing the Liturgy to be carried-out in the vernacular of each country.  John Paul expanded the Church by traveling to many countries, as part of his outreach program.  Each was a Man of the People, much beloved, but in their own way.

While John and John Paul brought their own changes to the Catholic Church, Francis has been gradually shifting the Church away from Tradition, and toward Necessity. Whatever the state of Religion, many people Worldwide are starving, homeless and not participating in the benefits of Modern Society.

Francis seems to be working toward the World’s Income Inequality and, at the same time, he realizes that it has to minister to people who have been cast aside in the past. Perhaps Francis’ concern with the Church’s relevancy is more important than all of its internal politics as in the past.  For Pope Francis I, maybe it will be: whatever it takes!

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