The Catholic Church is one of the oldest Christian denominations in the world that dates back to the time of Christ (Gerner, 2009, p.4). It has its headquarters in Vatican, Rome. It is headed by the Pope, who is elected by Cardinals through a voting process. The Catholic Church has been faced with many controversies like homosexuality and child abuse by priests.
Pope Francis is the current head of the Catholic Church. He was born in Argentina on 17th December 1936 (Aguilar, 2014, p.35). He was brought up in Buenos Aires where he also studied Chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1969, he suffered from a serious respiratory sickness which led to one of his lungs being removed through a medical surgery (Aguilar, 2014, p.35). He first entered the Seminary in 1958 where he later studied humanities and philosophy subjects. He was ordained to become a priest in 1969 and gradually rose through the ranks to be become the Pope on 13th March 2013 (Aguilar, 2014, p.35). He is known for his humility, compassion and simplistic approach to life.
Having taken over from Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis has been faced with the dilemma of how to handle the issue of same-sex marriages and celibacy in the Catholic Church. Same-sex marriage has been condemned in the Bible, and all his predecessors were against it. Despite all the contempt it has received, many people are openly coming out to pronounce they are gay or lesbians. The rise has been very high to the extent that many states are legalizing same-sex marriages (Edser, 2012, p.99-101). Many people, even within the church have already identified with homosexuals and do not see it as being unethical.
Homosexuality has been linked to the Church owing to the celibacy rule which requires that a priest and nun should be a celibate. The clergy’s limited chances of socializing with people of the opposite sex have led to the development of homosexual relationships and abuse of children who trust the priests (Keenan, 2012, p.59). The Catholic Church is under pressure to do away with the celibacy requirement for one to be a preacher. Changing this rule could help the church in combating the homosexuality in the church as the priests who want a sexual relationship will be free to marry and have a family hence reducing chances of engaging in homosexual relationships. It could also reduce the degree of child abuse. In 1 Timothy 3:2 and 12, the clergymen are advised to have only one wife meaning that the Bible does not oppose the ordination of a married man to become a priest. Celibacy became a priesthood requirement in 1075 during the time of Pope Gregory VII and has been practiced since then (Hayden, 2006, p.125).
Pope Francis, who has a history of opposing same-sex marriages in 2010 while serving as the Arch-Bishop of Buenos Aires, is hard pressed to a rock and a hard surface (Taylor, 2014, p.277). The church doctrines and scriptures are very clear that homosexuality is not acceptable while the same scripture asks Christians not to judge (Williams, 2005, p.97). Condemning same-sex marriages poses a challenge of even breaking the church as many young people embrace homosexuality (Ballantine & Spade, 2012, p.427). He has to condemn it without creating animosity between heterosexuals and heterosexuals. He also needs to ensure that he advocates care and tolerance within the Church towards homosexuals while taking care not to acknowledge it.
Studies carried within the Catholic Church congregation and clergy about their perception on whether or not to accept homosexuality in the church indicate that the majority of the people would like it to be allowed. Some of the clergy are also of the opinion that same-sex marriages should be acknowledged putting into jeopardy the church’s position on the matter (Weaver & Brakke, 2009, p.232-236). This shows that a great rift and a possible breakaway by those in support of same-sex marriage is inevitable should a stern stand and action be taken by the church to excommunicate those who are involved. The Pope, therefore, has to come up with a way to accommodate both groups. Accommodating same-sex unions, on the other hand, will not work well with his reforms agenda as it will be viewed as too compromising by those who are opposed to same sex unions. In a press conference in July, Pope Francis said that same-sex marriage is not acceptable in the church. However, he recognized that some of the same-sex unions are for the purposes of protecting property rights and improving health care access by those involved.
With the Christian values and the laws of the given states in mind, Pope Francis and the Catholic Church should be very clear about the Church’s stand. As the country is governed by its constitution, the Church too has its constitution that is the Bible. The primary aim of the Church is to guide its congregation to eternal life that the Bible is very categorical about homosexuals not being part of those who will inherit eternal life. Pope Francis, being the leader of the Catholic Church, would be justified to condemn homosexuality as he had earlier done in 2010. One should have the option of either following the set rules or find another denomination where he /she is free to practice whatever he/she yearns. On Priests being married, it is hard to change the tradition as it implies a total overhaul of the whole system. Nevertheless, such a strategy would be a major help in the fight against homosexuality and child abuse within the church.
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