Can the New Pope Become the Modern St. Francis of Assisi? (Part 1)
A Prescription for Rebuilding the Catholic Church
A new pope has been chosen for the Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion followers. Yet, the Catholic Church has never been so vulnerable. The church is being rocked by a range of problems such as child sex abuse by its priests, social strain due to a ban on abortions and contraception, and connections between the Vatican Bank and the Roman underworld. Can the new Pope Francis really rebuild the Church? Here are some thoughts on the possible direction of Catholic reformation.
The Heavy Burden of Rebuilding the Catholic Church
The new Pope Francis named himself after St Francis of Assisi of Central Italy. He is the saint who, at the start of the 13th Century, had a vision of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in the vision to ‘go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins,’ and as a result, he decided to follow Jesus’ example and live a life of poverty. Now is really the time to rebuild the Church.
After being elected, the Pope said, “I would like a church that is poor and is for the poor,” which revealed an attitude that placed high priority on the problem of poverty as St Francis had. But the problem is whether he can actually accept Jesus’ current thinking on the Church.
While fervent Catholics may find it hard to believe at first, the founder and CEO of Happy Science, Ryuho Okawa, has recorded a number of Jesus’ spiritual messages such as those in The Collected Works of Ryuho Okawa’s Spiritual Messages, Volume 5: Spiritual Messages from Jesus Christ’, and in Chapter 1 of ‘The Laws of the Family – Family problems and Harmonization of Belief / Utopia activities (neither are for sale). Apart from those well known publications, Master Okawa regularly communicates with Jesus in the spirit world when he deems it necessary.
What is a good direction for the rebuilding of the Catholic Church based on those messages?
1. Child Sex Abuse Problems
Allegations around the world of sexual abuse by priests continue to register, and there are reportedly several thousand victims. Behind this issue is the celibacy requirement for Priests, and people from countries all over the world are calling to ‘abolish the celibacy requirement’ and to ‘recognize female priests’. The numbers of priests are in steady decline year to year, and there are currently an approximate 400,000 people on the job. The main reasons priests give for leaving their position in the church are marriage related. However, a long line of Popes have been opposed to both the abolishment of celibacy and female priests, such as John Paul II who said, “Jesus appointed only male disciples.”
The celibacy of priests is based on Jesus Christ’s observance of sexual abstinence. However, according to the New Testament Canon, which the Church does not recognize, Jesus actually had a de facto companion. That person was Mary Magdalene, who was supposedly a high-class prostitute, and was one of several women who stood by Jesus at his crucifixion despite the flight of his male disciples.
In the Gospel of Philip, one of the New Testament books, there is a passage where Peter and the other male disciples showed their jealousy of Mary Magdalene when they said to Jesus, “Why do you love her more than all of us?”
Ryuho Okawa examined this issue in The Golden Laws Lecture 1 (which is not currently for sale):
If one reads the Gospel of Mary, it is clear that the real companion of Jesus was Mary Magdalene. That person was the wife of Jesus.
However, the first Pope was Peter, as he was ‘the first disciple’, and he created a church for males only. It therefore appears that Jesus himself did not have a preference for the celibacy of priests or the exclusion of women. If the marriage of priests were to gain recognition, and the door were to open for women, the renewal of the Catholic Church could begin.
However, single priests are necessary to a degree. If priests have families, then they have greater responsibilities in terms of finances, child rearing, and personal relationships As a result, there is great value in the existence of priests who stay single and devote themselves to saving others.
2. Social Strain Due to a Ban on Abortions and Contraception
Catholics consider the use of artificial means of abortion or contraception a ‘sin’, and there has been a serious rise in the numbers of people suffering from Aids. If these teachings were strictly followed, problems would surface in countries such as the Philippines where over 100,000 children are born to unmarried teenage mothers each year, which in turn also contributes to increased poverty levels.
Catholics believe that pregnancy is the result of the grace of God, abortions and contraception are not an option. However, there is nothing in the Bible about ‘before birth’, and it is a fact that in reality the Catholic Church says that they ‘don’t know’. The reason for this is that the Catholic Church has eliminated spiritual thinking from its history.
In ancient times and in the Middle Ages in Europe, there were Gnostics and Cathars, which were Christian religious groups who believed in a system of reincarnation. Those groups had great spiritual ability, but the Catholic Church suppressed them and eventually wiped them out for being heretics because they partially preached the spiritual truth of reincarnation. Despite that, Master Okawa revealed what the ‘Heavenly Father’ taught this group.
If the Catholic Church had included even some of the ‘before birth’ teachings, they would have had a more lenient stance in relation to issues such as abortion and contraception. According to the spiritual surveys conducted at Happy Science headquarters, a person’s spirit resides in an unborn child from about the ninth week of pregnancy. Consequently, abortions from the ninth week onwards should be considered ‘taking a life’, and they should not be carried out. Abortions prior to this should be avoided where possible, except in cases of pregnancy due to criminal acts, danger to the life of the mother, or exceptional economic circumstances.
Spirits, who plan to reside in an unborn child, have generally pledged in the heavenly world to be a child with the female and male who are to become his or her parent after the child’s birth. Thus, pregnancy is not something that is only decided by the will of God, but it is also decided based on people’s free will. For that reason, the Catholic Church’s uniform banning of abortions and contraception as ‘going against the will of God’ has been a mistake. Of course, this doesn’t mean abortions or contraception are okay as an affirmation of sexual freedom. It is simply a way of protecting women from experiencing unhappiness as a result of a pregnancy.
3. Unhappiness Due to the Disapproval of Divorce
The Catholic Church’s stance on divorce and remarriage as a ‘sin’ has also caused much confusion, and has resulted in more and more people leaving the faith.
In Italy, the home of the Vatican, there are increasing numbers of married couples that are taking their troubles to Romania where they can gain permanent residence and carry out divorce proceedings. The Catholic Church requires a period of three years of living apart before a divorce, and they shun that requirement.
In the Philippines, where more than 80% of the people are Catholics, divorce is ‘against the law’ and there is no system for divorce. There is a system where a couple goes to court and declares the marriage void – and they gain some official recognition of the fact that their marriage was ‘a mistake from the outset’, which rewinds the clock back to the time of the marriage ceremony. This type of case takes time and money. Thus, it is said that many people start living with a new partner before having had an official divorce proceeding.
The logic of the Catholic Church is that ‘marriage is guided by God so the couple must not separate ever’, but is marriage really the will of God or the free will of human beings? According to Happy Science’s spiritual examinations thus far, it is a fact of life that ‘people are born into this world after creating a life plan in the other world, and undergo spiritual training in the environment they are given’. People plan before they are born who they are going to have as parents, what kind of family environment they will have, and what kind of occupation they will have in the future. They also decide on their marriage partners, but if those partners aren’t born due to abortions, or the derailment of plans etc., the partners can change to other people with whom they have had past life connections.
Furthermore, there are also cases where the inclination or spirituality of people change depending on their educations and endeavors on earth. In such cases, it is a spiritual fact of marriage that from the number of people with whom they have been connected in past lives, the most suitable people will appear to become marriage partners. Since marriage partners are also decided due to people’s circumstances and endeavors on earth, it is difficult to say that divorce or remarriage is a ‘sin’.
Master Okawa preached about divorce in his sermon ‘The Laws of Divorce and Remarriage’:
The Catholic Church says, “A couple that has been brought together by God must not be pulled apart by God.” However, God has not actually handcuffed them together to prevent their separation. If a married couple has strong, unhappy, feelings, then I believe that it is fine for them to reconsider (the marriage).
Master Okawa also wrote about remarriage in ‘The Laws of Courage’:
Even if you experience divorce or remarriage, try not to think about it too seriously. Your new partner, with whom you have made a relationship, was probably someone with whom you had actually had a past life connection.
If you looking at it from this perspective, the Catholic Church is contributing to the creation of unhappiness by making divorce or remarriage into a ‘sin’.