IF I were Pope

If I were Pope…

If I were Pope, I’d start by apologising;

And then – I’d apologise some more,

Because the Church is worth it, and we

Need to draw a line on what’s gone before.

I’d apologise to women, within the Church

And without. I’d ask their forgiveness for

Many hurts, for denying them the right to

Let their huge potential come to the fore.


If I were Pope, I’d apologise to all women,

For using them and abusing them, by

Ministry-picking their talents: letting them

Clean the sacred vessels, yet only a guy,

Collared by God, can take those vessels,

And say the prayers, and raise them high,

To incarnate Presence, as if maleness

Has to have monopoly on divine supply.


If I were Pope, I’d open up ministry to all.

But for priest and bishop I’d keep celibacy,

Hard road that it is. Yet, well formed and

Well supported, the celibate has to see

The community as their sole embrace,

Their source of fulfilment and family.

Humanly daunting, yet, grace-grounded,

A life stance of unimpeachable integrity.


If I were Pope, I’d welcome back the excluded;

Those adrift by strict interpretation of the law.

Jesus didn’t collude with sin, but never left

Sinners bereft, as some kind of spiritual outlaw.

No one should be beyond the pale of mercy:

A moral code that closes doors has little draw,

And decent folk will walk away, and once hearts

Are hardened – what will make them thaw?


If I were Pope, I’d promote local diversity and

Remove Roman cinctures on self-expression.

While maintaining the vital Petrine authority,

I’d recognise the valid varieties of devotion.

I’d marry catholic and protestant strengths,

For so long the source of mutual vilification,

Celebrating all authentic spiritual modes:

Core values enfleshed by cultural variation.


If I were Pope, I’d take seriously Jesus’ cry:

“May they be one! Father, as we are one!”

His fervent prayer is uttered every second,

A shameful re-crucifying of God’s own Son.

Disunity in the Christian body is a cancer,

Not terminal, but reaping scornful attention

From a world desperate for grace and light,

But sadly put off by such a festering lesion.


If I were Pope, I’d hear the dissenting voice:

So often spoken by those who care, and who

Taste the bitter frustration of being blocked,

From expressing what they hold to be true.

We all struggle to grasp this God who peeps

Out through dark glass, ever old, ever new,

Who would overturn the flimsy tables of our

Temple dogma, manned by the clerical few.


If I were Pope, I’d give their bedrooms back

To married folk, retreating from papal bull,

Accepting sexuality as our Lover’s warm gift,

Not just for making babies, but for the full

Flowering of the couple’s own relationship.

I’d relocate sexual sin with the obscene evil,

Perpetrated and tolerated by an institution

That should have protected the vulnerable.


If I were Pope, I’d probably cause a schism…