Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, former bishop of Milan and a Papal candidate, died on Friday at the age of 85. He is the type of person who gave one hope for the Catholic church. His was a voice of dissension within the church, and accused the church of being "200 years out of date" in his final interview.
The fact that someone of his stature could speak out to the level he did, and that his comments made their way into mainstream media outlets, is amazing and wonderful. And, he was well-loved, both within the church and by parishioners alike. He thought the church to be aged and empty and burdened by too much bureaucracy. He advocated the use of condoms and allowing people in the church to remarry for reasons other than losing a spouse through death.
He was very vocal about what needed to be done in order not to lose the future generations of church members. The fact that the church continued to forbid divorce and the use of contraceptives were things he fought to change. He was embarrassed and appalled by the pedophilia within the church and the church's lack of responsibility in regard to it.
He understood that life was changing and that the church needed to open up to new kinds of families and new perspectives in order to stay current and be relevant in the world. The archaic directives of the church were only serving to alienate its parishioners. He was a liberal and courageous voice within the church and his final message to Pope Benedict, shortly before his death, was to initiate change within the church immediately, saying, "Why don't we rouse ourselves? Are we afraid?"
The church has been of great benefit and given much comfort and assistance to people worldwide. But, as we move forward as a collective and embrace new perspectives and ways of thinking, new practices of behavior and new values, the church need to keep up. If the church isn't able to meet people within the current time frame, and take into account the current ways of thinking, then the people have outgrown its usefulness. The church has to grow with the times. It has to be relevant to the issues people are dealing with in the moment.
To not allow divorce and the use of contraceptives makes sinners of a large percentage of its members. These are not things put forth by Jesus, they were put forth by lesser men in order to control rather than empower their followers. Celibacy among the priesthood was also not put forth by Jesus. Jesus never set about to create a priesthood in the beginning, that was started by Peter and Paul of Tarsus. If Priests were allowed to marry and have children, they would be much more able to help those in their flock. And, they would be less apt to rape children in order to have sex.
The fact that the sexual issues of Peter and Paul of Tarsus have been perpetrated upon the church and all of its followers for millennia is criminal in and of itself. Jesus wasn't celebate. He was married, had multiple sexual partners, and fathered many children. These facts have been suppressed by the church in order to further their own twisted agenda of sexual repression and limitation. Jesus was a tantric master and looked upon sexual union as a pathway to enlightenment. Sexual communion was a sacred act and empowering to those who practiced it as such. The church didn't want empowered members who formed their own connections with the Divine, it wanted controlled followers. So much spiritual and sacred knowledge has been hidden in service to the agenda of keeping its members under control.
The Vatican library, as well as the library at St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai, have the most complete works of sacred documents in existence, and yet they are largely unavailable unless one is a member of the church hierarchy. The reason the documents are not available to the rest of us is because they contain information that would run in direct opposition to the tenets put forth by the church. And, God forbid--LOL, sorry, I had to laugh at that--anyone should bring up anything that challenges the church.
The church is afraid because those at the top know that it manipulated the truth from the beginning and that it has been perpetrating lies ever since in order to exercise control over its kingdom. What are they so afraid of? No one grows by hanging on to the past, including the church. It has to be a living, breathing, growing, adapting entity in order to be able to continue. People need to be able to discuss and question their beliefs in order for them to remain applicable to an ever-changing reality. Nothing is stagnant. And, if the church stays stagnant as everything around it grows, it forces itself into irrelevancy.
Because the church has refused to grow and change through the years, people have turned to alternative sources of spirituality and connection. The great thing about this is that it's taught people that each and every one of us is able to connect to the Divine individually. We don't need priests and intermediaries in order to commune with Life. Personal communication with the Divine and gnosis are available to all, and more valid and applicable to life than what one might receive through the church. By the church making itself irrelevant, it's pushed people to be more empowered within themselves.
I think whatever helps us should be utilized, church included. If someone gains value from organized religion and gains comfort from its structure, then by all means continue with it. But, for the rest of us, for whom the church no longer holds any gravity, we're doing it for ourselves. We're forging personal connections with the Divine. We're becoming empowered as we realize things the church never told us about how Life works. We're openly questioning what we've historically been taught by religious institutions. We're more interested in truth than doctrine. And, we want something that helps us to live our lives better, and freer from restriction and limitation.
Some things make us bigger, and some things make us smaller. I think that's an important distinction, and a barometer for what to pay attention to. If you feel empowered and expanded by going to church, then absolutely go. But, if you feel empowered and expanded by other things, then pursue those things. Pursue thoughts and ideas that make you bigger.
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini lived bigger than most within the church structure. He questioned and he challenged and he wanted to grow and expand with Life itself. I'm sure there are others like him in the church who will now step forward to fill the void he left by moving on to the next dimension of Life. I hope there are, and that they are courageous, and that their voices are heard and heeded. But, it is ultimately up to each of us to find that which expands us and helps us to grow. It is up to each of us to find our own connection with the Divine. It is up to each of us to find that which sets our souls on fire and makes our hearts sing. So, sing loud and clear. Sing like there's no one listening. Sing a new song today. And, sing in gratitude to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini and those like him while you're at it. Bless you on your way, Carlo.