Suggestions for Washington, Baltimore, Richmond and Arlington bishops
His Holiness, Pope Francis I, while on his trip to Brazil for World Youth Day, urged the faithful to shake up their diocese. Le me make a few immodest suggestions to that end:
1. Transfer parish and diocesan property to the laity and administer it by lay deacons and deaconesses, chosen by the parishes or organization boards rather than by the bishop or pastor (by the way, the office of bishop in the Bible seems more akin to a Pastor rather than a Medieval princeling). The clergy should spread the Gospel, not the money, as per Acts.
2. In Washington especially, cover all families with health insurance, including those with gay couples. For a long time, the Church covered families created by a civil marriage, even though these were regarded as immoral. It is only masking bigotry to suddenly object just because these marriages are now open to gays and lesbians.
3. Perform these marriages - not because you are legally required to do so, but because Catholic families want the marriages of their children honored. The Church got itself into this situation by having Catholic hospitals exclude long time companions as not next of kin, even though they obviously were, at the request of families. If denying the dying the comfort of the person they love the most was done in order to pressure a death bed conversion, that is a most shameful misunderstanding of the mercy of God.
4. The Gospel of Life still strikes a misogynistic chord coming from an all male clergy. If you really want it to resonate for women you must also ORDAIN WOMEN!
5. If you want people to not use birth control, advocate for a family wage adjustment of $1000 per month per child - so that two workers doing the same job would have that difference in pay per child depending upon the number of children (and dependent spouses) - and PAY THAT WAGE YOURSELVES! Advocating natural family planning is missing Pope Benedict's point about the need for economic empowerment.
6. Expand Catholic hospital care to include mental health care for all those locked up as non-violent drug offenders (and even violent ones) - with the Church as the prime contractor rather than leaving these people to for-profit prisons and government prisons. Also, open Catholic vocational schools to start at age 16. It is elitist to deny Catholic education to those who are not going to Catholic college.
7. Go back to the ancient practice of electing bishops locally. While it was necessary in non-democratic times to wrest this power from local kings and polit-bureaus, in most of the world the protection of the Vatican is not necessary to block local government interference with the Church.