Reply, Guardian Weekly <email@example.com>
29th November 2013
Being a Catholic can be as mortifying as living in Tony Abbott’s Australia; you find yourself constantly subsumed into blanket pronouncements from popes and prime ministers, on behalf of Catholics and Australians, that outrage your sense of what it means to be either. Since it’s particularly difficult to hold your head up high when the Church is so often – and rightly – pilloried in the media, I was delighted to read Jonathon Freedland’s celebratory article: ‘The pope may have no army, no battalions or divisions, but he has a pulpit – and right now he is using it to be the world’s loudest and clearest voice against the status quo’ (22 November).
Catholicism is as deep in me as race or gender; I can’t simply extirpate it when it gets uncomfortable, any more than I can renounce being Australian. What’s more, I’m a convert, for hidden at the heart of the deeply flawed institution is a pearl of great price, living water I’ve found nowhere else despite a lifetime of searching. And now, under the current papacy, there’s a real possibility of composting some of the worst aspects of the monolith; a hierarchy that can abuse power as corruptly as any of the juntas whose redemption we pray for; body-hatred and damning of sexuality; and above all patriarchy that blights its structures, liturgy, language, morality and doctrine.
Might Pope Francis be midwife to the rebirth of a church congruent with its founding vision, with Christ as iconoclast, prophet, mystery, and exemplar of justice, mercy, compassion and truth? Alleluia.