“What religion are most people around here?” I asked the limo driver in Ljubljana, Slovenia heading for the cathedral.
“Catholic, but, uh, well — Catholic,” she replied, obviously leaving something out.
“Only sometimes?” I tried to pull it out of her since she was nice enough to tour me around the city on the way to the Cathedral after my flight arrived. It was my first time in this country, part of the former communist Yugoslovia, which according to this driver wouldn’t have allowed her to own a limo service because she was a woman. She started this business twenty years ago, just after the fall of Soviet Union. I was struck by the story of this female taxi driver, competing in the private sector in this relatively new democracy. She had seen a lot growing up… watching her father try to escape and then thrown in jail by the KGB. I took an interest in learning about this story and how proud the Slovenian people are; how they attach themselves to Vienna and Milan (geographic half way point between cities) associating with central Europe instead of the Eastern Block. After we cleared the deck on politics, I asked her again about religion.
She was excited to show me the cathedral in town but was hesitant.
“Here it is, my home church where I used to go to Mass as a girl…” now she opened the door.
“Don’t you go to Mass anymore?” I asked as we drove up and parked in front of this beautiful church.
“Used to, but I won’t go anymore,” she said in a somber tone.
“Did something happen?” I asked, trying not to pry too much, but I felt she wanted to unload something.
“Ever since we were allowed to return to Church in 1990, I started to get caught up in the female priest scandal.
“Female priests? Scandal?” I summoned two questions.
“I think that as long as men run the church and only ordain male priests, women will not be treated equal. I’m fine though, I consider myself spiritual and not suited for organized religion.”
Religion to me is so interesting… why people believe what they believe leading to why people do what they do. Here we have a strong woman with pride and courage, out of the chains of government control and into the arms of freedom. Freedom to choose her faith path out of free will, a true blessing, but was it possible that she embraced her liberty into a rebellious position theologically? Replacing government control oppressing the people with a religious hierarchy that in her opinion doesn’t view women as equal? Not my role to analyze her, I’m not qualified. However, a few thoughts crossed my mind.
What about the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, the author of life, who died for all people regardless of a person’s sex? Jesus ordained his apostles, instituting the priesthood in the upper room, and yes, he chose only men. That doesn’t negate the fact that the Catholic Church honors many great women as saints, including the Queen of Heaven, Our Lady. Mary is our best example of unconditional faith when she said “yes” to God and is venerated throughout the world in the Holy Rosary.
Isn’t heaven the goal for all of us? Many truth seekers turn into spiritual wanderers and fix their gaze on things of this world instead of things of Heaven and salvation. The role of the Church is not to reflect society and the changing times. It is also not a house of the Holy only but a field hospital for sinners, a place for the lost. The priesthood is a Holy Order founded by Christ to bring Himself back into the world through Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass.
I invited her to Mass; please pray for all confused faithful that the light of truth will shine during these confused times.