I realize there are certain obstacles in place, including doctrinal differences, but this is the guy I would like to have as my Conference Minister (UCC equivalent, roughly, of a bishop):
"The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don't even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live crushed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing."But go read the article before I quote the entire thing. The phone call arranging the interview, the comments on proselytism; almost everything he says. We would disagree on matters of church governance, on matters of doctrine, but how important is that? I've seen congregations split up over the decision to re-carpet their worship space; is my disagreement with the Pope over matters such as transubstantiation or the ordination of women any more serious? It would keep us from being subject to the same church judicatory, but what does that matter? This man says what I wish I could say; he is the pastoral example I wish I could follow, I wish I could at least have upheld to my congregations and to myself.
Your Holiness, I say, it is largely a political and economic problem for states, governments, political parties, trade unions."Yes, you are right, but it also concerns the Church, in fact, particularly the Church because this situation does not hurt only bodies but also souls. The Church must feel responsible for both souls and bodies."
Your Holiness, you say that the Church must feel responsible. Should I conclude that the Church is not aware of this problem and that you will steer it in this direction?"To a large extent that awareness is there, but not sufficiently. I want it to be more so. It is not the only problem that we face, but it is the most urgent and the most dramatic."
I had a very good Conference Minister, and a very, very bad Conference Minister (he came to my Church Council, a pre-arranged meeting I had no idea had been arranged, and told them that he wouldn't want to have me as his pastor. It was the last nail in my coffin there, and he made sure to drive it in deeply, because that church was one of the largest contributors to the Conference fund, i.e., his salary, in the Conference). I might have been a better pastor if I had this Pope's words to instruct me. This is a man who waters the dry ground of my soul; which means, to me at least, his words come from the God we both know.
Thanks be to God for such witnesses.