Morning Joe | March 14, 2013
>>> all right. as we take a look at the vatican. joining us now from phoenix, former nun and author of an "unquenchable thirst" and a fellow in the studies program. welcome to the show . very good to have you both with us. mary johnson , i have been following you a little bit in the media. it's been fascinating about some of the things you've been saying about challenges in the church on a moral level. what are your hopes, first of all, with the new pope?
>> my hopes are that this new pope might take a look at the catholics who have felt marginalized recently. gay and lesbian catholics , divorced catholics , catholics who see their home, their spiritual home in the church but don't feel entirely welcome and may be made to feel more at home. especially women. women need to be known as real potential leaders in the church and given the opportunity to make their voices heard and to change things for the better.
>> let me pose the same question to mary and say are your hopes in sync with mary johnson 's?
>> well, here's what i think. i think it's important to realize that pope francis is going to show us what it means to be catholic. that means to move beyond the labels of conservative or liberal or progressive or traditionalist and to really incorporate the gospel of jesus christ . that's what this man is about. you couldn't watch the ceremony yesterday and think about power. i think the word was service. humility. i think that's what he's going to draw out of all of us and bring us together in that way. reaching out to the left in terms of social justice . reaching out to the right you might say in terms of the moral teaching of the church . really he person is what it means to be catholic.
>> bringing in the next generation, doesn't that mean dressing the problems that the church confronted along the way whether it becomes confronting sex scandals or just more transparency in the process so people feel more connected with the church .
>> well, sure. i think when i think of this pope three things come to mind. compassion which everyone has spoken about. compassion for the poor but clarity of vision and sense of being about god's agenda and than it's not his agenda. it's god's agenda and third thing is his courage. i think that's what you're talking about here. he's not afraid to speak the truth whether it's the truth about children needing a mother and a father to be raised by a mother and a father or the truth that we need to be compassionate to the poor and make sure our monetary policies are really about providing justice for all. he's not afraid to speak the truth and i think it's up to the rest of the challenge for the rest of us to open our ears and eyes and to hear perhaps beyond the labels and to just look for that essence of what the church is about. what it means to be catholic.
>> you know, mike, i love what chris matthews said earlier this morning that you have a pope that's kind of like a pennsylvania politician. culturally conservative but socially more progressive. more in tuned with the needs of the poor. i think for younger people in the church , i actually think that's a message that will resonate.
>> look how his papacy began. he began with a moment of silent prayer . that is significant when you think about it. he didn't step out on the balcony. he asked for a moment of silent prayer . he chose the name francis . patron saint francis of assisi . received a vision from jesus and jesus said we build my church . it has fallen into ruin. i think the pope thinks about this and to mary johnson 's point, i would hope that he would be more inclusive or reach out to more people to bring catholics back into the church .
>> mary johnson , i want to touch on a point that chris matthews brought up earlier. how realistic do you think the vow of celibacy is in the catholic church and what have you found?
>> my experience is that people living the vow of celibacy are often very only. my experience is that an intimate relationship with another person where you're known, where you're loved for yourself is something which helps you to serve others. when i was a nun for 20 years, one of the reasons i wrote my memoir was that i wanted to start an open discussion about what it feels like to live with a vow of celibacy trying your best but realizing that we all have human needs. human desires that one of the best things we can do for each other is to love each other well and that means relating on a very, very personal level. i think that in the eastern church now, this is the eastern right of the catholic church . these are catholics who acknowledge the pope as their spiritual leader. they've always had a tradition of married clergy. one of the sisters who took vows with me was the daughter of a croatian priest who was legitimately married in the church . there's no theological reason why catholic priests shouldn't be married. st. peter was married. i think that the vow of celibacy is something which studies have shown only 50% of priests are observing at any given moment. we set ourselves up for failure and setting ourselves up for an ideal that's too hard to reach.
>> mary hasson, would you agree?
>> i would challenge that. the gospel standard is a high bar . we are challenged to live and we're given the grace to respond to the call that god has on each of our lives. so for those who are called to the priesthood, there's a call to that celibacy. but there are certain things that are rules of discipline and certain things that are unchangeable truth. so whereas the church will not be ordain women , john paul ii made that clear, there can be and indeed there are some married priests , and they serve the church well. i think again the real sense here is to keep our eye on service and that is what pope francis is about. when he stood there in front of that crowd and asked them to pray, that is that attitude of humility and service that says it's not about my agenda, it's about god's agenda. what is god's plan here? i thought it was interesting yesterday's gospel was the gospel of john and it ended with jesus saying i have come not to do my will but the will of him who sent me. i think that's what the call is for each one of us. it's what is god asking of us?
>> mary hasson and mary johnson , thank you both. coming up next, fast to do tries to take a healthier turn.