To the Editor:
Remake or renew? With due respect for Father Chris Weber, I am grateful to Professor Keith Soko of St. Ambrose University for recognizing, as Pope Francis says in his latest letter, “Christus Vivit” that in the church “some things need to change.” The pope is especially acknowledging the concerns of young people.
For the church to be relevant to young people in today’s world, there are questions to be addressed. Besides celibacy, Soko mentions human sexuality, divorce and abortion. Each of these situations involves a variety of connected issues. We should perhaps add to these moral issues some other items for consideration of change, war being a big one. We definitely need to reach common understanding and agreement on these issues, which can be so divisive to a society. It seems like more openness and thoughtful discussion is needed.
Moral behavior over the centuries and in different environments has been viewed differently, for example: slavery, methods of punishment, treatment of women, etc. The church has shifted its stance on some of these questions. Perhaps it is time to examine the others and to admit that the answers are not God-given but evolve from reflection, learning, dialogue and honest efforts to figure out our world. Much of this, like celibacy, relates to church rules and can be changed. I say “rules” because “doctrines” creates a different reaction and needs to be discussed separately.
Young people today are growing up in a very secular culture. They are dealing with new and difficult problems to navigate. The Sunday Scriptures don’t deal with the world they know. Somehow or other the church needs to integrate life’s current dilemmas into the basic message of Jesus, which is summarized in the Sermon on the Mount.