There are several ways of how to control people. In the church there has been a very common one : creating a strong sense of guilt. Most people, even if they leave the church, deep down in their hearts there would remain a lurking sense of guilt. In history, there have been several people who opposed the church, yet during their last moments of life on earth, they simply surrendered and gave all property and riches to the church in order to redeem their soul!
The sense of guilt has been built not in one single moment. It has been going on for centuries. The Catholic church has for many centuries, did not build a conscience for adults, but rather a set of directions of what to do and what not to do. It’s no surprise that the recent letter by the Pope has confounded some Catholics. In simple words, they assume that the church should say what’s black and white. Incidentally Pope Francis mentioned the grey colour!! They find it hard now that the present Pope is letting them decide. Most probably it is for the first time in the history of the church that the adults in faith are being treated as adults. They examine their own conscience, listen to God’s voice and decide!
Parents understand it perfectly well, because at one time, one’s child, is going to decide about something which one does not agree to. At one moment, one knows and understands that the child is no longer a child but a fully grown man or woman. He/she now has a different opinion and might make choices which are not according to what parents dictate! It’s the same process which is happening in the church today. Pope Francis is really bringing a revolution without any blood being shed or terrible fights (including that of discussion!!).
One of the main ideas of the so called ‘conservatives’ (ie those who are in favour of the black and white mentality and who won’t accept any exception at all), is that they see the others as sinners. Jesus the shepherd gives us the idea that if he looses one, he goes out of his way to find it. When he finds it, he makes a feast! Are we looking for the so called the ‘missing ones’?
How about walking in their boots for one day? How would we see reality? How would one see the church? The advantage of being a married priest is that people, knowingly or unknowingly feel more at ease to discuss matrimonial challenges. We have been living this kind of theology (ie starting from experience and NOT from some medieval teaching) for many years now (much before the latest letter from the Pope).
But let’s focus on the fact of a women falling in love with a priest. We have been insisting for many years now that falling in love is not simply a button to be pressed at will. It can happen to everybody, saints and sinners and all!
Women and men meet at a certain date. It could be a casual encounter or one which leaves deep imprints. Whatever happens, we do believe that God is speaking to both persons. It’s not fair and just simply to tell any one of them to forget and go away. After all we preach and say that God is love! So why when love is round the corner we simply give it another name: temptation?
Obviously we are not referring to a passing crisis or infatuation. We have in mind several couples who although they stayed far away from each other with no contact for a long time, they both discovered that they have to share their journey of life together!
I’ve been asked several times to assist such couples which I happily do. Yet it doesn’t mean that I have to decide. It’s the couple who need to take such decision. We can only help them mature and make a sound decision whilst taking into consideration several challenges and trials. Indirectly we are breaking the sense of guilt that many priests who love their woman (and vice-versa), feel. Obviously we don’t expect to break this sense of guilt immediately after so many centuries of pure brain washing. Yet we are confident that no wall cannot be broken down to single stones to let people discover new areas of teaching in the church.