Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics, offers his analysis of what the Pope and the Catholic Church must now do in light of the child abuse scandal. Shriver states that "what's needed is a conversion of the bishops and the pope himself."
That's right: It's time for the pope and the bishops to convert their culture to one that is centered on loving God from the depths of their souls and to leading a church that is as much mother as father, as much pastoral as theological, as much spiritual as doctrinal. It is time for them to listen to the deep and authentic witness of the people of faith, to trust the spirit that blows where it will, to abandon their defensiveness of their positions and trust only the gospel, and not their edifice of control. Conversion is a total experience -- letting go of the old and putting on the new.
The conversion we seek for them is the same conversion they invite for us: Put on a contrite heart and fall in love with God, recklessly, totally and passionately. Let the love of God be the only measure of their actions.
We live in a spiritual age, and until the bishops and the pope learn to lead a people hungry for authenticity, trust and spiritual nourishment, we will look elsewhere. There are millions of Catholics with deep spiritual wisdom -- millions of faith-filled people who love God in transformative ways. We will trust their faith and witness if the bishops fail us.
My faith is not shaken by these scandals. My hunger for my own conversion to a more loving, more just and more peaceful way of living is undiminished. On Easter, my family and I celebrated the hope beyond all hopes and did so with the Eucharist.
But this is Altargate. The hierarchy, not the faith, is in jeopardy. The pope need not resign. He must do something far more difficult: convert.
Difficult but necessary!