What we know about Pope Francis gives me hope that he is compassionate and open to the Spirit of God in the people of God. He invited the people to bless him and bent over to receive an outpouring of prayer and love, not only from people in Vatican Square, but from millions around the world. At this historic moment the priesthood of the people rooted in baptismal grace was palpable.
What we know about Pope Francis gives me hope that his first response to people in painful situations will be compassion, not more canon laws. His openness to condoms to prevent infection and challenge to ultra conservatives to give communion to single Moms display Christ's tender care for those in need.
His solidarity with the poor, specifically, his naming of social sin as a core issue in a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. With Pope Francis, who as a church leader took the bus to work and lived in a small apartment, solidarity with the poor could become an important priority for the hierarchy.
Will more bishops move out of their mansions and follow his example anytime soon?
I hope that Pope Francis will recognize women and men as equal partners in the Gospel. Women's unequal status in the church is the "elephant in the church's living room" that needs to be addressed. He could appoint women to the top jobs in the curia and sweep away centuries of sexism in one big swoop!
Although, I wish that our new Pope would affirm women priests and ordain women immediately, I realize that this may be a step too far for any pope at this time, given the hostility of the hierarchy toward their sister priests.
However, our new pope could reach out and take some positive steps that would make a difference. Pope Francis could remove Roman Catholic Women Priests from the category of most grievous crimes against our church. (on the same level as pedophiles according to canon law) He could announce that those who ordain women or support women priests no longer incur excommunication.
How about a new beginning? He could dialogue with women priests and with our inclusive communities, including the male priests who in growing numbers in countries around the world support us. Perhaps, Pope Francis will ordain women deacons as leaders of communities of faith like our Sister Phoebe in Romans 16.
Who said prayers or dreams can't come true. Pope Francis is the first Latin American pope and millions today have seen their dreams come true! One day, our dreams for women priests in the Catholic Church will be officially sanctioned by a Pope. One day, we may have a woman pope!
Bridget Mary Meehan, www.arcwp.org, firstname.lastname@example.org
|left to right: Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Bridget Mary Meehan, Lee Breyer, Michael Rigdon, Katy Zatsick|