WASHINGTON, DC, March 31, 2013 - Easter is about renewal, resurrection, new beginnings, hitting the reset button, a chance for a do-over. After unimaginable suffering, Jesus rose from the dead, a phoenix from the ashes, ready to forgive the world for its sins, even those who loved, but failed him like Peter, and most especially those who condemned him. Billions of Christians are celebrating Easter today, many of them Catholics, and if Jesus was so willing to give the world a second chance, can the Catholic Church?
As a progressive Catholic, I’m hesitant to get too excited about Pope Francis moving the church to a more liberal place, but I am hopeful he will make some strides in that direction, even if it’s only an inch. Already, there have been some positive signs that indicate he might be open to shifting tides.
While I don’t predict that this pope will make any of the more radical changes Catholics might have dreamed of in the 60s and 70s, I do think Pope Francis shows some signs of moving the Catholic dogma down a kinder path.
Pope Francis on his first Easter mass as pope, took the opportunity to make a call for peace in war torn areas across the globe, most notably in the Middle East where conflict and tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis has felt like a hopeless situation at times, it was heartening to hear that the Pope has those citizens and nations struggling with war in the forefront of his thoughts. In addition to this plea for world peace, the Vatican is still fending off criticism against the pope for washing the feet of two female prisoners on Holy Thursday, a break away from the tradition of washing only men’s feet (and usually those of higher social status than youth prison detainees).
These two acts by the pope in his first Holy Week, making a call for peace his primary concern and washing the feet of women during Holy Thursday services, gives me great excitement for what might lie ahead.
Progressive Catholics might not be getting everything that they want with the new Pope, at least not right away, but we can take the opportunity to be glad for even a small tilt toward the left.
That Pope Francis used his first major religious holiday to spread a message of peace across the globe is a fantastic sign of what may come. After all, what is more important in this world than peace, and I am grateful to the pope for reiterating that to the world this Easter. That he is also willing to be more inclusive to women, even if for the time being it is just in matters of the feet, is a major step forward for Catholicism in the direction of gender equality. Granted it’s a very small step, but it is something to be excited about this Easter.
In many ways peace and equality have always been on the Church’s mind, but having Pope Francis take concrete actions to promote these ideas is something to rejoice about this Easter, and a great reminder that anything can be resurrected, even hope.
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