Heart and Head
Public comment on the “Tuam babies” and Magdalen laundries (**), the cover-up and protection of clergy sexual abuse, Marie Collins’ resignation from the papal commission and the subsequent cover-up by Vatican beauracy all point in the one direction: the institutional church as we know it chronically dysfunctional and is currently unfit for purpose.
The first disciples of Jesus followed him with their hearts; the relationship was personal engagement with Jesus. They era committed to him and believed him. Later Christianity developed ideas and theology which it believed and accepted.
To be a Christian, say, in the theologically developed Fifth century meant going through various doctrinal hoops in order to reach Christ, and following him became codified in law and regulation. Ideas, dogmas and laws have been front and center of Christianity ever since. Christianity looked like a head trip to many.
For Pope Francis, faith is rooted more in the heart than in the head. He has a dictum: reality is more important than the idea. Ideas, ideology, doctrine, law must be evaluated in the context of the wider life of the community. No longer can it be a religion of ‘one size fits all.’
For the theologian and legislator, ideas determine and control reality. For the pastor and a growing number of grown-ups today, changing reality calls for constant adaptation of our ideas and rules. There’s a new-found self-confidence in Catholics today. More and more have their own mind and heart on matters of faith and morals.
Pope Francis finds God among the great ‘unwashed’. God is where the people are, especially the most vulnerable and the most exploited. In Buenos Aires, Francis was known as “the bishop of the slums.” He feels that God’s predilection is for the poor, those who have been exploited so the rich can keep what they have taken from them through unjust legislation and graft.
Has the gospel of Jesus Christ over the centuries left the warm heart and taken up residence in the cold unfeeling head? If so, we need each one of us, to get back to warm personal relationship and engagement with Jesus. Just like the first disciples.
** Church scandals unearthed in Ireland.