“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” – Pope Francis
I’m not a Catholic but I’ve become a supporter of Pope Francis. The statement above is part of his mission statement showing he wants a more “missionary and merciful church.” I couldn’t agree with him more. He went on to say:
“More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us, ‘Give them something to eat.’”
By thinking back on my cult experience and reading this, I can tell he is and will be a great leader for the Catholic Church. He knows and understands what can potentially make a church a cult.
The fear of going astray and giving us a false sense of security. When I was attending my old church it was all about not going astray. They were the one and only church. If I left I was going to Hell. By staying there it gave me a sense of security. However, in hindsight it was a spiritual prison.
Rules that make us harsh judges. This really struck home with me. If you weren’t like my fellow church members, following the rules we followed, you were judged. You weren’t “worthy” of our, or even God’s, grace.
Habits that make us feel safe. It was pushed on me to do exactly what we’ve always done in order to do the “right thing.” While tradition is good in some cases, it can also lead you in the completely wrong direction. Your faith becomes more about works than grace. You do mindless habits rather than do it out of love for God. That’s not Christianity.
I don’t want the perfect church.
I want a church that’s broken and knows it, that seeks God and others for help. I want a church that works with other churches for the greater good in this world. I want church leaders who know they don’t have all of the answers, but also know that if we work together and have faith in God we will have the answers given to us.