The biggest problem to face the new Pope later this month is not the 'potential millions of Catholics who could be lost to Islam and the evangelicals', or the 'battles over the issues of abortion, gay marriage, women in the priesthood and celibacy' or even the 'priest-child sex scandals'. It's me.
Unless the new Pope can persuade me - and tens of millions of Catholics like me - to stay in the Church, it's curtains.
And he can't persuade me to stay unless the institutional Church starts to speak to my everyday experience, or, better still, begins to speak from my everyday experience.
And the chances of that are slim.
"Daddy, do we have to go to Church? It's so boring," my 8 year-old daughter typically says to me on our way to Church every week.
"I know, love," I say. "We're all bored, but you're in your First Communion year in school, so the least you can do is go."
"But the whole thing is so stupid," my 14 year-old says. "Like, you don't do anything. You don't say anything, and the priest has nothing relevant to say. I even fell asleep once. It's just so boring."
"I know," my 12 year-old says, sympathetically. "The only good thing about going to Mass is the smell of burgers coming from McDonald's next door."
My children are typical of Catholics world-wide, I suspect. The problem isn't that church-goers want to be entertained, as one priest friend of mine claimed, but that the Church doesn't speak to, or from, our everyday experience. And it should. Church-goers are the Church, after all.
The Church has lost its way.
Have you seen the Pope's tweets recently? I have. I FOLLOW him, and his tweets are couched in a language which is light years away from my (Christian) reality. They do nothing for me. They are a foreign language which does not speak to my experience. Likewise, the tweets of most priests that I FOLLOW. Their experience is a million miles away from my own - a husband, and father of three children. And we are the ones who make up the body of the Church.
The institutional Church has been derailed by narrow clericalism and an over-preoccupation with people's sexual mores. The result? It is mainly a correctional Church which is out to save the world. It's not a Church that listens or includes - and it especially does not listen to those who are at its heart.
But it used to. Once upon a time it had a vision that fed believers world-wide for almost ten centuries, up until the 13th century. This vision centred almost exclusively on the passionate love between a woman and a man, as recounted in the Song of Songs, the most erotic book in the Bible. It spoke of rapture, passion, love, fun, enjoyment, sexual pleasure, of failure and hope, of absences and longing - the beautiful ups and downs of everyday life. In other words, it spoke of the electrifying human story.
It would cause you to lose sleep, it would keep you awake.
Can we have it back, please? The people most marginalised in the Church are the people at its heart.
Personally, I don't want to belong to a Church that saves, saves, saves. I want to belong to a Church that first and foremost affirms, accepts, and celebrates those at its heart. Loves, in other words.
The only place that is going to come from is from rank and file believers. It's up to the next Pope to bring us in from the cold.
If Jesus were a tweeter, he would surely tweet to the 120 men about to elect a new Pontiff: -
@RomanConclave - Choose a man who knows all about love because he has lived it passionately.
Or, there again, he might just tweet: -
@RomanConclave Choose a woman.
If you want to follow my shenanigans on the beauty of everyday life, check out www.thebeautyofeverydaylife.com, which is currently under construction, but which will be formally launched in the first week in March 2013. Alternatively, catch up with my stories about everyday life in my home at www.adrianmillar.ie.
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