Every April, spring comes to the earth. No matter how bleak things have been through the winter, no matter that all our grass died in the hardest cold spell in decades, all is greening once again.

Catholics should draw hope from this. There has to be a death for there to be a resurrection. If we can experience the death of clericalism, misogyny, and financial and moral corruption in the very governing structures of our church, then there is the chance of a Catholic “spring.”

Imagine a new church. What would it be like?

I dream of a future church where gender is not a qualifying factor in the discernment of vocation. A future church where celibacy is not a pre-requisite to priesthood. A future church where authority is decentralized from Rome to national bishops conferences, where the “power” of the papacy is that of spiritual leadership.

Imagine if, instead of palaces, the pope lived in monastic simplicity and prayer was the currency of favors. We wouldn’t need cardinals. The position of pope could be voted on by the bishops conferences in conjunction with the national leaders of all the religious orders. The pope would not have to be multi-lingual, professorial, or even male. The primary quality would be holiness. And there could be a limited term, just as there is for provincials of religious orders. I can’t help it, these dreams give me a flicker of hope.

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