Making the Church more relevant to ordinary people

This column is going to be on a topic some of you may consider controversial or it may make you feel uncomfortable. It is a topic however that perhaps we should spend more time thinking about.

On New Year’s day after watching the National News on the CTV news channel at 9 p.m. I switched on the Sun News channel. They were broadcasting a documentary about Pope Francis. I found the documentary very interesting and informative.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires in 1936. He was ordained a priest in 1969 and became a bishop in 1992. He became an Archbishop in 1998 and was created a Cardinal in 2001 by Pope John II. He is noted for his humility and concern for the poor.

Since becoming the Pope he has resided in a guesthouse instead of the papal apartments. Ever since he became a priest he has lead a very simple life. As a priest and when he became a Bishop he used public transportation rather than a car or a more luxurious mode of transportation. While in Buenos Aires  he lived in a small dwelling and cooked for himself rather than the more upscale facilities provided by the Church.

Pope Francis will be a much different pope than his predecessors. I think his goal is to make the church and perhaps all of Christianity more relevant to ordinary people by example. In the short time he has been Pope he has demonstrated a unique ability to communicate with ordinary people. He does not put himself or the church above his parishioners. He tries to follow very closely the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. I think he intuitively understands that the Catholic Church and perhaps most Christian churches are not connecting with ordinary people.

Somehow I believe that many people do not believe that there really is a God. To people who do not attend church or rarely attend church the idea of God as the creator of every thing is an abstract concept. It is something that seems so vague you just can’t get your head around it.

Questions that arise in ones head and have in mine are: Where is God? What is God? Where and what is heaven? Where and what is hell? Is any of this real? Many of the answers are in the Bible.

I suspect that people that do not attend church think the Bible is mostly fiction. In fact, the Bible is a historical document. Some of the beginning of the book of Geneses could have been based on an authors vision of how the world began. The rest of the book is what happened. For Christianity what is relevant is the New Testament. Christ was born of Mary a virgin. He was conceived without the assistance of a man in a way no other person has ever been conceived. That makes Him God in the body of a man. How else could he have performed the numerous miracles that are recorded in the Bible? I would recommend that anyone who has doubts about what took place just read at least one of the four gospels in the Bible. They were not made up any more than the history of the Egyptian Pharaoh’s was made up. Those histories took place in the same time frame.

Jesus main message was peace, love and concern for those unable to help themselves. Pope Francis preaches a similar message. I believe his objective is to make Christian religion relevant to ordinary people again. There has been a drastic decrease in church attendance in the last three or four generations. Churches are closing and donations to churches are down. Each successive generation is less able to connect with the relevance of religion. God gave everyone a will and a soul, the difference between people and animals, but to people without an understanding of what that means it has no significance. I am of the opinion that that is the reason for the moral decay in our society. In my opinion political correctness, gay marriage, abortion and the horrible social problems in large urban centers, etc; are all signs of a society in decay. Can Pope Francis make a difference? Lets hope and pray that he can.

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