The Hope of my Roman Catholic Friends

I know so many Roman Catholics. I minister to a lot of Roman Catholics. A number of Roman Catholics minister to me, bringing me life and joy and love.

Those relationships mean that I live with their hope.

The news that the pope was going to retire brought that hope out into the open. It is an extraordinary moment where a conservative pope has, in his last major act, redefined the papacy as we know it for our lifetimes. From now on, those who select a pope will not presume that person must go on through the weariness of old age to death. They have new expectations that could well lead to younger popes and that makes the hopes of those I love rise.

And that hope is almost unbearable to behold.

I’ve just heard that Keith Patrick O’Brien has resigned in the wake of a number of allegations being made against him by three priests and an ex-priest. (Such talk has been doing the round privately for some time). I understand that he disputes these allegations.

The Roman Catholic Church needs now to say how these allegations will be investigated. The now ex-Cardinal’s resignation doesn’t remove the need for those who have brought these allegations to hear the truth spoken, whatever that truth may be.

Though I am not immediately with Roman Catholic friends, I can feel their hope rising for a different kind of leadership.

The opposition that the Roman Catholic Church has made to gay couples being able to be married has been pretty vile and some things that have been said have come from the mouth of Keith Patrick O’Brien who was named a Stonewall’s Bigot of the Year in 2012. If these allegations are proved to be true, people will call him worse than that this time. If not, then he has been unjustly and horribly accused.

I take no pleasure from his departure and I don’t think I know anyone in any of the churches who will. This brings none of us any good.

Today I bind my prayers with the aching hopes of so many Roman Catholics I love. And I leave all I say and think about these things there.

What gives you hope?

Although a little better today, I’m still not up to taking meetings and services and so others are filling in left right and centre and I’m most grateful to everyone.

Monday evening is an example – the LGBT group will still be meeting but will be led by one of its members rather than by me. I received a message describing it thus:

Theme for tomorrow’s LGBT group, Monday 17th Jan. 7.30pm at St Mary’s is HOPE. Those who wish may bring an object, story, poem or song to share with the group for 3 mins on this theme. What brings you hope now or what has brought you hope in the past? Sharing is entirely voluntary and anything shared is confidential. The group is a short friendly meeting with tea and coffee afterwards. All welcome. Please spread the word.

Sounds great and I wish I could be there myself.

However I’ll take the opportunity here and now to share something I’ve seen this week which gave me hope.

It is a video produced by a Muslim media organisation in the US which asked Muslims what message they would want to convey to the rest of the world. I remember seeing it a couple of years ago but its lost none of its impact and I think its a fabulous example of religious people communicating.

What gives you hope?