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Years ago every family on every block went to church each and every week. Patiently and attentively parishioners sat and listened to their clergymen preach the word of God. The Roman Catholic church was the backbone in morality for the US for hundreds of years. However not in recent years. The church has come under attack by just about every group. Why? What changed? The answer is simple. Nothing. Catholicism antiquated itself. Not it's lessons or moral teachings, but by the church and it's representatives refusal to keep up with the times. Long gone is the overwhelming catholic guilt the church is infamous for. Long live the days of instant gratification and worshiping one's self as a hero.
The Catholic church and it's hierarchy have become known for poor judgement over the past decades. Certainly they'd like you to forget how for years they covered up priest molestation. They don't want you to recall in doing so they would merely reassign an accused priest to a new parish far away from any allegations. Unfortunately for them, we all remember and we will never forget. Our trust was compromised, our beliefs shaken.
Then in March of this year came Pope Francis. A new type of leader for the Catholic church. A man who recognizes his religion's need to come out of the 14th century and into the 21st. A leader who understands that far more can be accomplished by working together and using basic understanding rather then verbally assaulting a public figure or action. Pope Francis has been praised by most for his open mind and contagious spirit. He's been called a breath of fresh air. Even the churches biggest adversaries have been relevantly quiet when it comes to Pope Francis.
Then there is Thomas Tobin the Bishop of Providence RI. A truly faithfull man who has served his religion for over 40 years. Yet Tobin does not share his Catholic leaders sense of forgiveness or compassion. Bishop Tobin seems to be content with maintaining business as usual. Calling out all sinners and denouncing them for such sin.
Tobin this past week said in regards to the passing of world renowned leader of peace; Nelson Mandella, that "his promotion of abortion was shameful". It is obvious to even the novice Catholic that abortion is a sin in the eyes of the church. However most priests or clergymen did not use the death of a world leader to bring attention to an abortion debate. In fact most found Tobin's comments deplorable. In preparation for this article I spoke with a priest who serves in Tobin's dioceses. He (anonymously) called Tobin's words, shameful and tactless. In fact he questioned Tobin's real motive for the remarks. He even went as far to imply Tobin might have been headline hunting. Whatever Tobin was trying to accomplish it made himself and his religion once again look archaic and ruley. If the Catholic church is to survive into the next century it will have to do so based on Pope Francis and his fearless humility. Gone with the days of the family prayer, are the times for finger pointing and grandstanding. Pope Francis has taken his role off the proverbial high alter and down to the common man. Preaching a healing of the church itself before casting stones. Pope Francis and his efforts are directed at connecting with today's youth and the generation who the church lost, thus restoring the joy in the beliefs of the Catholic church. Bishop Tobin is the exact example with the old model of faith. Preaching the word of God through fear and judgement. His words will will only continue to condemn his religion and push more people away.
Perhaps Tobin could have learned from Pope Francis' statement in regards to Mandella. Francis said "Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations. With these sentiments, I invoke upon all the people of South Africa divine gifts of peace and prosperity."
Those words are from a noble man, a true leader. Simply put, a guy who gets it. A man Bishop Tobin should learn from; instead of contradicting.