Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

piine si_pesteI do not forget the early Church,

that band of brothers and sisters who grew up around the ludicrous idea that a young, skinny, intense devout, poetic, confusing dazzling Jew preaching love, love, love was Himself the distilled essence of the unimaginable Force that created all that is. A crazy idea, and they were crazy men and women, addicted to His stunning idea that love would conquer blood.

But they persisted - against the enmity of their Jewish brethren,  against the enmity of the world's greatest empire then, against the enmity of time. They did so in the early years by communal love: they chose their own priests from among themselves, they did not fetishise celibacy, they elected their own bishops, they met in fields and forests, they steered clear as best they could from power and money, and tried to stay focused on the young Jew's message, and the carrying of that love to the end of the earth, the   forging of that wild message into a wild new peace, a new way of being, a revolution of the heart.

Inevitably it took an organisation to carry that message, and no organisation can persist for two thousand years without being subject to all the million sins and vices of the human engine: lust, greed, violence. And the Catholic Church has suffered them all in spades, being nothing more and nothing less,ultimately, than a corporation to house and protect the original crazy idea.

The corporation is brave and extrodinary and flawed and cruel. It had been responsible, perhaps, for morre blood and death than any other corporation in the history of the world. It is, in its modern incarnation, egregiously mismanaged. It  has far too few managers for its workforce, and those managers are all male, all unmarried, and almost all elderly. It is, despite its wordwide scope and influence, headquarted in a single vast ancient Italian castle where a cadre of mostly Italian men persist in trying to control the lives and loves of people around the planet; it is closed to the very same scattered democracy of the first days after Christ, when a handful of men and women dispersed from Jerusalem to carry the news of a love that did not die.

But I suggest  that this closed corporation... is dying and being reborn before our eyes, its hammered and flinty heart is struggling to be born anew.

I suggest that the Vatican as imperial corporate headquarters may someday become Buckingham Palace, a beloved and respected  and necessary and nutritious element of   Catholicism, but not at all crucial, and certainly not in charge.

I suggest that the pope will someday be elected not by cardinals but the worldwide acclamation of his people every bit as inspired by the Holy Spirit as their cardinals locked in a room together have been in the past.

I suggest that dioceses may someday again elect their own priests and bishops...

I suggest that the financial status of churches and schools and parishes will chage into entities designed not as outposts of the diocese but as independent spiritual villages.

I suggest that the legacy of the Church will be Christ's message that can destroy totalitaran governments without smart bombs - wars are failures of the immagination.

I hope and pray with all my heart that before I die I see clear a church that matters more than it has since the skinny dusty confusing mysterious gaunt testy riveting devout Jew Yesuah ben Joseph selected his first team and so birthed an idea that might heal the bruised and wondrous world. A new Church which has always had the extraordinary potential to be: a stunning voice against poverty and hunger and ethnic snarling, a clan of brothers and sisters bound by the insane faith that love will conquer blood.

(Brian Doyle, editor of Portland Magazine, Oregon, USA.)

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