New Pope to Lutheran World Federation: "Can we talk?"
As the 600th anniversary of Luther's 95 Theses in 2017 comes ever closer, there will be speculation about the Roman Catholic Church and unity with Lutherans and other Protestant churches.
The decline of Christianity among Europe's indegenes is a huge worry for all the various factions of the faithful in Europe, especially the Catholic church. The new pope may well decide that some loss of authority is less important than the unity of embattled Christendom. The response from the various quasi-state Lutheran churches and the Church of England may well be positive, as they see their positions eroded by increasing secularization and declining birthrates.
Ideally, the office of the Roman Pontiff would be transformed from that of an absolute monarch to a more modern constitutional monarchy. The church would become a big tent with room for the various traditions; Catholic parishes could continue to have a celibate priest if they could find one; Lutheran and Episcopal pastors could be married or not, as now. Priests could be married if they wish, with whom they wish. Communion in any church would be open to all, as would church offices. Local communities would have direct input on who their bishop could be. All offices, including the papacy, should be open to women.
The transformation would be surprisingly easy in most of Europe, since the vast majority of Christians belong to only a very few denominations, unlike the USA, with its 4,000 brands of Protestantism. The few Protestant denominations in Europe were mostly state churches in recent memory, or still are - think of the Church of England whose ultimate head is the Queen.
A lot of Kossacks are hostile to religion, but as a practicing Lutheran, I can say that most of us are happy to volunteer our time and resources to helping people in this world, providing food, clean water and shelter to those in need, and are not too concerned about personal salvation and other theological niceties.
You may be surprised, but I have some sympathy for the current Pope. He probably does equate child rape with Sin (which it is), but only in the theological sense, and had no idea how to deal with the torrent of reports he got. I don't know enough about the lines of authority in the Roman Church to know if Ratzinger had authority to punish the guilty. That may be the duty of local church hierarchs, but as we have seen in Boston and Los Angeles, they were unwilling to do so. And Ratzinger's Hitler Youth past? Both of my parents belonged and neither of them were evil people... It would take an unusual teen to resist the pressure from teachers and peers not to join. It was not mandatory, but if you didn't join it brought yourself and your family to the attention of the Party authorities. I'm not surprised young Ratzinger joined.