dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

Our editors, and others, on 'the interview'

Now on the website, Commonweal’s editors on what the pope’s interview reveals:

[M]uch attention has been paid to the pope’s surprising admonition that the church has been too “obsessed” with abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage. As welcome as that observation is, however, the real importance of the interview is to be found in the pope’s clear-eyed evaluation of how the gospel should be preached in the modern world.

To be sure, many Catholics whole-heartedly embraced the change in tone and spirit in which the pope discussed difficult questions like abortion. Unfortunately, some deeply involved in the prolife movement have taken those remarks as a rebuke. That is an overreaction and misinterpretation of what the pope said. Obviously, Francis was objecting to the uncompromising and confrontational rhetoric of some Catholic activists. Why? Because that approach is simply not working. Worse, it is preventing the larger gospel message from being heard both within and beyond the Catholic community. With a third of all baptized Catholics abandoning the church, while those who remain are increasingly divided on ecclesial, cultural, and political questions, the pope’s diagnosis is hard to refute. Is it not time, as Francis urged, to “find a new balance” in presenting the church’s teaching to an often doubting flock and a sometimes hostile secular world?

Elsewhere, the analysis continues. R.R. Reno in First Things:

By my reading, Pope Francis was being a bit naïve and undisciplined in parts of this interview, which although reviewed by him before publication has an impromptu quality I imagine he wished to retain. This encourages a distorted reading of what he has in mind for the Church. This is a problem related, perhaps, to his Jesuit identity.

A key passage involves his image—a very helpful one—of the Church as “a field hospital after battle.” He observes that in such a circumstance we need to focus on healing as best we can. Some of the protocols and procedures fitting for a hospital operating in times of peace need to be set aside.

He then digresses into fairly extensive reflections on what the Church needs in the way of pastoral leadership in this situation: “pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.” We’re not to allow ourselves to fixate on “small things, in small-minded rules.” The Church needs to find “new roads,” “new paths,” and “to step outside itself,” something that requires “audacity and courage.”

These and other comments evoke assumptions that are very much favored by the Left, which is why the interview has been so warmly received, not only by the secular media, but also by Catholics who would like the Church to change her teachings on many issues.

At Room for Debate in the New York Times, Simone Campbell, Frances Kissling, Rod Dreher, Bill Donohue, and Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu offer their takes.

Campbell: “In 2012 U.S. Catholic sisters and my organization, Network, were criticized by the Vatican for not holding their narrow focus. Now we see that our pope knows that no one political party has control of the Gospel message.” Dreher: “As a Christian who worries about the future of religious liberty in America, I find the pope’s pastoral direction to his flock naïve and discouraging.”

John P. Judis at The New Republic draws a connection from Francis to King Juan Carlos of Spain and current Iran president Hassan Rouhani. Short form: Assumptions that existing conservative positions will be continued or even harden under successors don’t always pan out. Longer form:

What’s the link here? At the risk of obscurity, I would cite the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel’s conception of history as Spirit’s journey toward Freedom. Of course, Hegel’s conception of Spirit and Freedom may be a little different from ours, but it still makes some sense to call these different events in Spain, Rome, and Tehran part of Spirit’s journey toward Freedom. And what’s distinctive about each of them is that they were somewhat unexpected—especially by the critics of Franco, Papal conservatism, and Iran’s mullahs—and that they were not imposed but happened—to use a term favored by Edmund Burke—organically. Yes, there were outside pressures in each case, but the pressures could have easily had the opposite effect, as predicted at the time.

Music critic Alex Ross is struck by, among other things, Francis’s comments on Wagner: 

If I'm not mistaken, Pope Francis is comparing “decadent Thomist commentaries” to Klingsor's magic garden — a seductive illusion covering a wasteland. Could the Pope’s emergent philosophy of unadorned compassion have been influenced in some small way by Parsifal, that attempted renovation of religious thought through musical ritual? “Through pity, knowing”? “Redemption to the Redeemer”? Possibly, but there are limits to his aestheticism: “Our life is not given to us like an opera libretto, in which all is written down; but it means going, walking, doing, searching, seeing.” This is a remarkable man.

You’ll also remember that Francis touched on Caravaggio in the interview, which seems a good reason to look back on our multi-author symposium on the artist, “A Message from Caravaggio,” along with Robert P. Imbelli’s “Tortured Genius: The Miracle of Caravaggio’s Art.”

About the Author

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s digital editor.

Topics: 
81 comments
Close

81 comments

Commenting Guidelines

  • All

Reno seems to like the field hospital image but he says the Pope is 'naive', 'undisciplined' and 'digresses'

the field hospital idea maybe to Reno's liking so he might declare himself at the triage station, out side the field hospital, as being one who is too far gone for healing and thus refuse entry. . (-:

I am trying not to comment on everything everybody says about the interview, and Commonweal should try to do likewise. But... "a bit naive and undisciplined"? Fr. Sparado's opening to the interview explicitly makes nonsense of that reaction. If one doesn't like what Pope Francis said, one will have to do better than "naive and undisciplined."

And despite a long, long struggle with Parsifal in Cologne, I am inclined to agree with anything Alex Ross says because I read his book ( The Rest Is Noise ) and realized he must have been personally in attendance at every major musical event of the 20th Century, including the ones that happened before he was born.

If Pope Francis were naive it would be easy to figure him out, and, being such a simpleton, it would be easy to predict what he is likely to do.  But what he is, is extraordinarily surprising.

I say that the most obvious thing about him is that he is a forgiving man, but closer acquaintance with him reveals a particularly complex person.  Far from being a simpleton he's extremely intelligent and grasps both factual details and nuanced thinking based on broad and deep principles.  Underestimate him at your peril, though he'll forgive you if you do :-)  

Yes indeed, Ross's The Rest is Noise is a wonderful book, and his column in the New Yorker is the only one I read faithfully in every issue in which it appears. For my money, he's the best critic going. But I have yet to be converted to Parsifal. When I was about 15 or so, I accompanied my mother, a rather high Episcopalian, to see the opera (when the Met still played Philadelphia) in the Academy of Music, and she made a dismissive remark about not caring for the "fake religiosity" of the opera. No doubt she and I were and are both missing something, but I still think she was right, and watching part of yesterday's PBS broadcast of the Met performance did little to change my mind.

It's nice to know that Francis (rather like his predecessor) seems to put Mozart at the top of the heap, or at least very near the top.

In the published interview, Pope Francis describes himself as a bit naive, at least at times.

At times, a bit astute. At times, able to adapt to circumstances. At times, a bit naive.

Elsewhere in the interview, he describes himself as very undisciplined -- which is why he admired the discipline of the Jesuits and entered the Jesuit order.

So R. R. Reno is picking up on Pope Francis's own words to criticize the interview.

 

Being "a bit" naive at times doesn't qualify Pope Francis as a naive pontifs.   If the cardinals had thought he was naive he never would have been elected pope.  

Pope Francis did make the decision to appoint the advisory council of eight cardinals, but I think it important to note, as the Pope does in the interview with Father Spadaro, that the proposal for such a council came from the cardinals in their meetings before the conclave. A month after his election, Pope Francis acted on the cardinals' proposal.

The group will meet next week for three days. Whether it will continue to meet periodically and whether its membership will eventually be opened to non-cardinals is not clear.

A number of commentators thought that changes in the Curia would come only after the 1 to 3 October meeting. But, in fact, the Pope made a several major curial appointments last Saturday, including the re-confirmation of all of the present officials, members, and consultors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The speculation that Archbishop Gerhard Mueller  (named prefect of CDF by Pope Benedict last year) would be re-placed proved to be wrong.

A number of changes or re-confirmations are still to be made.

 

                                                                                                              

I am enthusiastic about what Pope Francis has been emphasizing and what he has been doing. But isn't all this to-do about the inteview that he gave beginning to border on the nutty. He strikes me as a very serious man who is deeply compassionate and recognizes that the problems we Catholics face are substantial. He offers us a fresh conception of what is needed to let the Gospel message find a hearing today. Isn't that enough? At least for the moment?

This weekend at my parish, our retired monsignor in his homily noted that he'd been ordained for 47 years, quoted the first two sentences of Gaudium et spes as his inspiration for his priesthood, and said that he had been completely revivified by hearing Francis express the same vision of the church that he'd been inspired by so many years ago. He got an enthusiastic ovation.

Wasn't Rod Dreher a Roman Catholic for about five minutes? Amazing how the Times can only round up the usual suspects, even if their credentials are expired.

Rod Dreher was Catholic for seven years.  The bishops' cover-ups enfuriated him and drove him to the Orthodox  Church.  He often seems nostaglic, though.  (I follow his blog a bit -- some interesting conversations there between liberals and conservatives.) 

One worry is that when Francis says let bishops handle questions of orthodoxy and let the CDF have just  mediator role, this might license the zanier bishops to step up their excommunication schedule, as in Australia: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/dissidents-preach-a-new-breed-of-catholicism-20120805-23nyg.html

Fr O'Leary, I agree that we need to see that what pope Francis does is consistent with his wonderful words of dialogue, openness and creativity.

However in this case the issue has been burning for a while, it is not clear how much pope Francis had to do with it, and "Archbishop Hart said Father Reynolds was excommunicated because after his priestly faculties were withdrawn he continued to celebrate the Eucharist publicly and preach contrary to the teachings of the church." I am all in favor of unbounded freedom of expression, but I draw the line at actions. A man who continues to celebrate the Eucharist after his faculties are withdrawn, who creates an association with an opening message stating "First was my growing conviction that the Institutional Catholic Church was wrong in its teaching on Women's Ordination and on Homosexuality. More recently I discerned a personal calling to minister to and with Catholic people who share these beliefs and have been longing for a community that celebrates the Catholic Eucharist in ways that support these beliefs," and who, if one is to believe the media (but I find that hard to believe), did not object to a man sharing communion with his dog, such a man is not in full communion with the church.

I am not ready to say that this is an example of excessive use of power by the CDF, nor to see the hand of pope Francis behind it.

 

"But of course Greg Reynolds was excommunicated by Francis"

How much do you think that Cardinal Pell had to do with this?

Good points. As with John XXIII the Curia is going to issue things without the pope's permission. With the pope we have to see an overall pattern before we can discern. This happened with John Paul II and Ratzinger. The pope was praying with other faiths in Assissi while Ratzinger was condemning it. 

"Unfortunately, some deeply involved in the prolife movement have taken those remarks as a rebuke. That is an overreaction and misinterpretation of what the pope said."

Well, it was quite plainly a rebuke to somebody. If not those "deeply involved in the prolife movement," then to whom?

The Pope's critics on this are a definite group. They're the ones, like Bishop Tobin, who are "disappointed" that Francis hasn't said more about abortion, and say so publically to pressure him into doing so. They are the ones who censured the American sisters for PRECISELY the same attitudes that the Pope has now endorsed, namely -- putting abortion and gay marriage into perspective and attending first to the works of mercy. 

"Obviously, Francis was objecting to the uncompromising and confrontational rhetoric of some Catholic activists. Why? Because that approach is simply not working."

Francis, the pragmatist? No. This misses the mark entirely. I don't think that in Francis's interview he is talking about changing tactics. It is about a long-range strategy. Taken in context of everything else he has said, about the times we live in, about the challenges, about the development of doctrine, about everything -- he is making strategic moves to change things in deeper ways than just a pragmatic shift in tactics.

That was the whole problem with the "new evangelization" -- oh, the tactics were going to be more welcoming and all that, but there really wasn't a new strategy, and people can see through this new varnish on the same old picture pretty fast.

"Obviously, Francis was objecting to the uncompromising and confrontational rhetoric of some Catholic activists."

One more comment on this. How could it possibly be that the Pope is fixed on merely some "rhetoric" of "activists"? This hypothesis lets off the hook the whole American episcopate, which has collectively summoned all the muscle it can to defeat President Obama's health care reform because of one detail concerning contraception.

One detail. As far as the bishops are concerned, all the health care that will be improved and made available because of that plan--care for the poor, for everybody--is rightly held hostage to one tiny provision about contraception.

All the money and effort expended on fighting this, the whole "religious freedom" crusade -- is this "the rhetoric of some Catholic activists"? No, it's the episcopate of the most wealthy and powerful country on the planet. That is who is being uncompromising and confrontational, and focussing all concern on one thing, to the exclusion of other things that arguably are closer to the core of the Christian message. And yes, this has gone way out of balance. 

For all those conservative Catholic pundits - loosely defined - who are desperately trying to keep a straight face and stiff upper lip when pronouncing that recent statements of Francis are [completely consistent] with JP2 and B16, David Gibson is tweeting that Tom Reese, S.J. got canned as editor of America Magazine for publishing the very ideas that now come straight from the pope's mouth!

Go figure ...  I guess:  Jesuits rule!

"whole American episcopate, which has collectively summoned all the muscle it can to defeat President Obama's health care reform because of one detail concerning contraception."

They are not looking so good. I would love to be a fly on the wall of the USCCB meeting this November.

Step One: Disband the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and use the money to subsidie the ministries of our American sisters.

Rita - did Bishop Tobin actually say out loud that he is disappointed in Pope Francis?

Here is a link to the interview that Bishop Tobin gave to the "RI Catholic".

 

http://www.thericatholic.com/news/detail.html?sub_id=6041

If one thinks that at least in the later stages of gestation there is a human baby present, then defense of that child is indeed a compassionate act, an even more compassionate one than see that it has a lot to eat.

Unfortunately, Ann, those lawmakers and others who are so obsessed with being anti-abortion also seem to be the ones extremely obsessed with underfunding or even cancelling the SNAP program.

"Birth 'em and starve 'em" is compassionate?

Frank, thanks for that link.   Interesting.  (Actually, the interview as a whole isn't that interesting, but one or two things he said, including the "disappointed" remark, are interesting). It reads as though that particular remark wasn't elicited by the interviewer - Tobin sort of volunteered it on his own.

 

Probably of little concern to anyone here, but Pope Francis has changed our relationship with non-Catholic extended family members--which is all of them, actually--for the better. It's amazing how many teachings people outside the Church will take more seriously when those teachings are presented with friendliness and compassion, and when the Church is presented as a healer of human suffering rather than a judger of sins and rule-breaking. 

I think Pope Frances exudes great joy. As my kid was watching one of his visits with crowds of people, he said, "He seems like he's at a party and is glad everyone showed up."

 

 

Meanwhile, Francis has appartnetly excommunicated an Australian priest for speaking up for same-sex marriage and women's ordination ...  http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/church-dumps-rebel-priest-20130920-2u5... ....  and those at First Things are happy this shows the pope didn't mean what many thought he meant about gays and women ...  http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/09/23/francis-excomm...

 

The Pope's critics on this are a definite group. They're the ones, like Bishop Tobin, who are "disappointed" that Francis hasn't said more about abortion, and say so publically to pressure him into doing so. They are the ones who censured the American sisters for PRECISELY the same attitudes that the Pope has now endorsed, namely -- putting abortion and gay marriage into perspective and attending first to the works of mercy. 

This is a useful comment inasmuch as it highlights why people who hope for fundamental change in church teaching are (sorry) doomed to have those those hopes crushed.

Here is the CDF's summary of what the LCWR is being charged with. I'll add some comments of my own below these three bullets.

  • Addresses at the LCWR Assemblies. Addresses given during LCWR annual  Assemblies manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors. The Cardinal offered as an example specific passages of Sr. Laurie Brink’s address about some Religious “moving beyond the Church” or even beyond Jesus. This is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life. Such unacceptable positions routinely go unchallenged by the LCWR, which should provide resources for member Congregations to foster an ecclesial vision of religious life, thus helping to correct an erroneous vision of the Catholic faith as an important exercise of charity. Some might see in Sr. Brink’s analysis a phenomenological snapshot of religious life today. But Pastors of the Church should also see in it a cry for help.
  • Policies of Corporate Dissent. The Cardinal spoke of this issue in reference to letters the CDF received from “Leadership Teams” of various Congregations, among them LCWR Officers, protesting the Holy See’s actions regarding the question of women’s ordination and of a correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexual persons, e.g. letters about New Ways Ministry’s conferences. The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching  on human sexuality. It is a serious matter when these Leadership Teams are not providing effective leadership and example to their communities, but place themselves outside the Church’s teaching.
  • Radical Feminism. The Cardinal noted a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some of the programs and presentations sponsored by the LCWR, including theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father who sent his Son for the salvation of the world.   Moreover, some commentaries on “patriarchy” distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the Church; others even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.

So here is my comment.  To the extent this summary is accurate of what the LCWR talks about at its meetings and in its materials, the LCWR would seem to be making the very same error, in light of Francis' preferred positioning of church teachings, that the episcopate is accused of.  In other words, allegedly like the US bishops, the LCWR is focusing on the same narrow band of hot-button issues - human sexuality, ordination of women, who is in and who is out of the church, and so on.  Granted, the LCWR presumably is taking the opposite side of each of those issues than the US bishops.  But Pope Francis' point isn't that the church should switch up and take the opposite side on each of those issues - it is that that church should shut up about those issues.

Francis is calling us to focus on things such as conversion, love and mercy.  Who could be against those?  Surely the American sisters are all for such a program.  Presumably, so are the bishops.  Presumably, so are the rest of us.  There is a good deal of commonality here - a vast, broad area for agreement.  It's salutary to remind ourselves that these wide and fruitful lands exist.  Perhaps Francis' reminder of what we hold in common will help dial down the tension between the American sisters and Rome.  But what is sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose.  If bishops should stop obsessing over these hot button issues, then shouldn't the LCWR do the same?

Francis' challenge, I believe, is fully as much to so-called liberals as to so-called conservatives.  Both sides need to leave the old playing field, band together as one and face the genuine, authentic challenges of the 21st century.  It may be that the things we've bickered about for the last half-century or so don't really matter too much anymore.

 

Jim McC --

Birth 'em and don't give 'em enough to eat is not nearly so awful as kill 'em.  

The Republicans, by the way (the "compassionate conservatives", remember?), have cut food stamps for the next ten years.

 

Jim, Francis was explicit: "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods."

You can try to make a case that by extension, his explanation - "The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance" - can be applied to the nuns as well, but I think it's a stretch: in the context of the preceding paragraph,  it is clear that he people he has in mind are, first and foremost, those who keep hammering on about abortion, gay marriage and contraception.

 

Now, perhaps you are taking his words to heart and applying them to the nuns, but that's your own take, not the pope's words.

If we really want to think about extensions, then don't those words also apply to those who are obsessed about the poor, when they ought to worry more about the sex abuse scandal for example? Pope Francis, I'm looking at you!

In other words: you can twist his words to apply them to any issue you want downplayed and ny you want highlighted. 

 

Claire--

But the setting for that statement was a woman confessing her sin of abortion to a priest.   That puts a different context on things that the far left has ignored.

A priest who continues to celebrate the Eucharist after his faculties are withdrawn -- I am not sure that this is so monstrous as to merit excommunication. Theologically, a priest may celebrate the Eucharist in case of need even if he has been laicized, or indeed excommunicated. This is rather different from taking part in the ordination of a woman or consecrating a schismatic bishop, not only because of the more radical challenge to church order, but also because of the invalidity in the former case.

I understand that the English theologian Charles Davis continued to celebrate the Eucharist for friends after he had left the RCC.

Jim P - business travel so can't respond with documentation on your LCWR comment but your comparison is incorrect - apples to oranges.

Hope others can provide the data:

- e,g, Sr, Brink - her talk has been taken out of context; a few lines highlighted out of context.  A true hatchet act by the forces to be .....and she was not laying out some principle or act/decision that the LCWR was going to stand behind; spend millions of dollars on, etc.  Your comparison limps so badly.

- radical feminism....same as above...this is a pre-judgment that has no foundation...it is a pre-judgment by those who feel threatened by something

- female ordination - that is not a corporate policy of LCWR....that would be the same as someone criticizing Burke for his traddie behavior and then drawing the conclusion that every bishop is just like burke

Jim,

Aren't you omitting the point that was so widely reported here, namely that the sisters were not sufficiently vocal in their opposition to abortion and gay marriage? 

I'm sorry, I do not have the CDF statement at hand to check. Was that mis-reported? If it's not in the CDF statement, perhaps some bishops who incited the investigation said so, I am sorry not to have the citation.

We all know about Laurie Brink, and I am surprised you would continue to cite that passage after all that has been said in this blog about how the CDF's critique takes her comments completely out of context and distorts their intention.

Finally, glad you found my comment, uh, helpful, but I don't see how you conclude from what you have stated that those who hope for changes are "doomed." I certainly don't think anything I've said here merits a "doomed to failure" label -- I didn't propose any changes. 

Mr. Pauwels,        

Please tell me you did not compare the USCCB with the LCWR. Has a member of the LCWR ever “observed” a session of the USCCB—no? The USCCB is the group behind ‘Fortnight for Freedom’; members of the USCCB took it upon themselves to campaign against civil marriages for gays and lesbians, and as Ms. Ferrone commented, it was/has been “the whole American episcopate, which has collectively summoned all the muscle it can to defeat President Obama's health care reform because of one detail concerning contraception.” When sexuality was discussed it was on a scientific and pastoral level and not in a way that alienated an entire cohort.  One last comment, women as a whole and the LCWR in particular, has neither decision making power nor the pulpit from which to speak as do priests, Bishops, Cardinals, et al.  It’s not “goose and ganders” it’s more apples and oranges.

I'm thinking you have never experienced real hunger nor have lived with small children who are hungry and you have little to feed them.  It's another form of killing people---just a slow form.

Just to add to the excellent comments of Ms. Sipe -- any fair examination of LCWR will show they are not focused "on the same narrow band of hot-button issues - human sexuality, ordination of women, who is in and who is out of the church, and so on."  Outside of how they can best live their communal, consecrated lives in the the 21st Century, LCWR is focused things like immigration, income inequality, access to healthcare, human trafficking, environmental issues and (horror of horrors) feminism -- (the ultra-radical belief that woman are, you know, human beings!)

LCWR is out there with real people, facing real problems.  These nuns are taking on the smell of the sheep, while the US  bishops are following the lead of small group of right-wing ideologues, organizing forthnights against imagined bogeymen.

Fr O'Leary, doesn't it all depend on how it is done, that is, on whether the attitude is adversarial? That priest "discerned" a calling to minister to a new community, for which he founded an association. He sounds, not fearful and uncertain, as one normally is when going a different way from the rest of the church, but almost brazen. He is going his own way instead of trying to stay in unity with the rest of the church.

Aren't you omitting the point that was so widely reported here, namely that the sisters were not sufficiently vocal in their opposition to abortion and gay marriage? 

Rita and all, my apologies, I neglected to provide a URL to the doctrinal assessment - it is here.

Regarding your question, here is what I believe to be the pertinent passage from that document:

while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States. Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the Bishops, who are the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.

So yes, I believe you're right in saying that the LCWR is accused of not paying sufficient attention to issues that are part of the "lively public debate".  But more is said here:

  • that when those issues are broached, they are broached in a way that doesn't correspond to what the church actually teaches about these things
  • On occasion, they are broached in a way that out-and-out contradicts waht the church teaches

But the larger point of my comment is to note that focusing on this narrow cluster of issues, whether it is pushed by left or by right, has the risk of seeming to be all that the church stands for, all that the church talks about.  I'd add that conjoining this short panel of hot buttons to a second panel of laudable concerns about social justice doesn't really get to what the pope is after, either.  He is calling the left, as much as the right, to rethink and reprioritize.

I've seen a number of commentary by liberal Catholics who seem to think that the Holy Father is vindicating their preferred views and stands on controversial issues, or perhaps is laying the groundwork for a shift in church teaching in a direction that is preferable to liberal Catholics.  I think this take is wrong.  I think he is saying, "keep talking about abortion, contraception, et al - but do it in the context of preaching the Gospel."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Pauwels:

Your interpretation against others' interpretations. Are we now going to have more division as a consequence of the Pope's interview?

Please tell me you did not compare the USCCB with the LCWR. Has a member of the LCWR ever “observed” a session of the USCCB—no? The USCCB is the group behind ‘Fortnight for Freedom’; members of the USCCB took it upon themselves to campaign against civil marriages for gays and lesbians, and as Ms. Ferrone commented, it was/has been “the whole American episcopate, which has collectively summoned all the muscle it can to defeat President Obama's health care reform because of one detail concerning contraception.”

The USCCB and the LCWR are not really comparable (thus I don't know why it would make sense for the LCWR to observe, in an authoritatvie sense, the USCCB, as the LCWR has no authority over the USCCB) - but the Holy Father's admonitions surely apply to both organizations, as well as to the rest of us.  

I was going to let Rita's comment about Obamacare pass, as there is only so much one can argue about in a given day :-), but since you've republished it, I'll respond.   The USCCB cited a number of reasons for its initial opposition to Obamacare - most/all of which have been vindicated by subsequent events.  One of those reasons - by no means the only reason, but one of them - was concern about the possibility of threats to freedom of conscience.  And as it turns out, the contraception mandate vindicates that particular concern,  as it is one concrete instance of Obamacare subverting freedom of conscience: Catholic business owners who conscientiously object to cooperating in the distribution and use of contraceptives have no choice accept to accede to the contraception mandate; there is no exception for them.  

The bishops' overall opposition to Obamacare occured during that period of time when the legislation was being considered and debated, before it became law.  I'm not aware of the bishops working actively to repeal Obamacare since it became law - and it has come up for reconsideration in the House and Senate dozens of time since it became law - much less "summoning all the muscle it can to defeat Obamacare."   Certainly, the GOP has tried mightily to overturn Obamacare, but I don't think that can be said of the bishops.  (If what I'm saying here is not accurate, if the USCCB has actively lobbied on behalf of Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare or has undertaken other significant activities to overturn the legislation, I'd be glad to be corrected).

What the bishops have done is form ad hoc committee for religious liberty.  It's purpose, though, is not to "defeat Obamacare", and I'm not aware of anything the ad hoc committee has done to oppose Obamacare as a whole.  The ad hoc committee has opposed the contraceptive mandate, which is just one of the million heads of the hydra that is Obamacare, albeit a very important one for the bishops.  

 

Just to add to the excellent comments of Ms. Sipe -- any fair examination of LCWR will show they are not focused "on the same narrow band of hot-button issues - human sexuality, ordination of women, who is in and who is out of the church, and so on."  Outside of how they can best live their communal, consecrated lives in the the 21st Century, LCWR is focused things like immigration, income inequality, access to healthcare, human trafficking, environmental issues and (horror of horrors) feminism -- (the ultra-radical belief that woman are, you know, human beings!)

Fair enough, Jack.  As a matter of fact, the CDF does take a couple of paragraphs in its document to acknowledge all the good things that the LCWR, and women religious more generally, do.  I'm sure the congregation could/should have been much more effusive on this score than it was.

But sauce, geese and ganders again.  Your list of things that the LCWR focuses on, is also what the USCCB focuses on - contrary to a number of assertions here at dotCom that the bishops "obsess" on abortion, contraception and same sex marriage.  A quick visit to USCCB press releases during the month of September reveals the USCCB speaking out on the following topics: feeding the hungry, immigration reform, peace in Syria, overseas humanitarian aid, and support for Chinese American Catholics, as well as liturgy, bishop assignments, abortion and religious liberty.  Certainly, it is true that the secular press and even the Catholic press doesn't pick up a lot of these stories. 

 

 

 

Your interpretation against others' interpretations. Are we now going to have more division as a consequence of the Pope's interview?

John - I dunno, I don't feel particularly divided from anyone here.  Can't we talk about what the pope's words mean, and their implications, without being divided from one another?

 

 

Jim Pauwels, 

In following the debate on the contraception mandate, I continue to wonder where one can reasonably draw the line between individual religious liberty and that of the general population.  Allowing individual employers to disregard laws that are meant for all could open the door to consequences that might not serve the general good. 

The state already limits individual religious freedom in many cases and I would be interested in your responses to these cases - a few examples:

Do you disagree with the legal requirement imposed on members of certain religions that they seek medical care for their minor children when those children are at risk (Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists being among the most notable)? 

Would you agree or disagree with the court ruling that denies certain Native American tribes the right to use traditional (but illegal) substances in their sacred rituals?

Are the religious rights of Mormons (and of some Muslims) violated by the legal ban on polygamy?

Do you agree or disagree with courts that have ordered Muslim women to reveal their faces when having a photo taken for a legal ID (driver's license, passports etc) or when being questioned in court?

And finally, an example of a self-imposed "violation" of religious belief -

Are the Christian Scientists who own and operate the Christian Science Monitor wrong when they violate their own religious beliefs to offer health care insurance to the non-Christian Science employees of the organization who may (or may not) choose to take advantage of it?

These are fairly mainstream examples of intersections of individual religious beliefs and the common good. Certainly many more extreme examples could be cited (sacrificing virgins as part of a religious rite is not acceptable, for example). 

Finally, should Roman Catholics be given greater legal leeway in exercising their own religious liberty at the expense of the religious liberty of the non-Catholics they employ than do other religious groups?

Turns out America Magazine mis-translated Pope Francis' comments on women; NCR has the corrected version. http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/america-apologizes-omission-francis-interview

I am still waiting to find out why I am "doomed."

Rita - I fervently hope your are saved. :-)  I miswrote; I meant to say that (some of ) liberals' hopes are doomed.

Irene - I agree with Phylis Zagano - that's a big omission.

Ann Chapman - respectively: no, disagree, probably not, not sure but tend toward agreeing with the courts, no.

Regarding your final question: I confess I don't understand it.  Does it refer to the contraception mandate?  If so - I don't see whatever putative "right" the contraception mandate is supposed to confer  to consumers of contracepttives as being a religious-liberty right.  

Why is Congress being granted an exemption from having to enroll in Obamacare?  I don't understand why the democrats who led the fight for the Affordable Care Act don't want to subscribe to it.  Can someone give me a reasonable answer to this question?

Thank you, Jim. I fervently hope you are saved as well. :) 

Just to be clear on an earlier point; I believe the LCWR responded to the charge that they have been "silent" on the right to life, by claiming that their support of life has been consistent, but that the greater focus of their time has been with the needy, etc. I suppose it is a judgment call as to whether the work of the sisters with the homeless and the hungry and children at risk and all that is what the pope would say is a gospel witness. I happen to know a lot of people who believe that it is, but perhaps you would disagree and think that the pope is calling them away from such tasks... ?

It would be a novel reading.

Hi, Rita, no, I don't think that the pope is calling sisters away from their orders' missions.  I also don't think that feeding the hungry in the US is particularly "pro-life witness".  There is virtually nobody in the US who starves to death involuntarily, but a million or more human beings in the womb are aborted, year after year after year.  The scandal of abortion calls for unequivocal, vocal opposition.  The CDF believes the LCWR hasn't mustered this sort of opposition.  I don't find that belief incredible.

Jim,  sometimes you agree with civil limits that have placed on religious freedom and sometimes you disagree with them.  

What, in your mind, makes the difference in whether or not the government has a right to restrict individual religious liberty in the private sector?

Why do you think that is it acceptable for the government to limit the religious liberty of some members of some religions but it is not acceptable to place restrictions on the religious liberty of individual Catholics who employ non-Catholics in their private sector businesses?

If you believe that there is no religious liberty "right" for employees in the private sector to have health care options that are mandated by law and that include contraceptive coverage  - denied this right because of the religious beliefs of their employer in the private sector, then perhaps consider another question

Is it right for individual employers in the private sector to be able to claim religious liberty exemptions under all circumstances whenever they don't like  a particular provision in the law? 

When and how can the government determine the legitimacy of the claims of individual employers that their religious freedom is being violated by a law? 

How should the government go about determining whether or not each case of an employer claiming a religious liberty exemption is truly a genuine case of religious liberty or simply an employer using the claim of a violation of religious beliefs in order to evade compliance with laws - such as the laws that have been passed to ensure equitable access to health care for employees of those with religious prohibitions against specific health care provisions or even against all medical care?

Do you believe that every religion/religious group in the United States has the right to have their own particular religious beliefs upheld as law for all - including those who do not share the beliefs of that particular religion? 

You indicated that you  are not sure if agree with the court decisions that deny (under certain circumstances)  the right of Muslim women  to cover their faces in accord with their religious laws? What about this example makes you not sure?  

Why do you think that it is not a denial of religious freedom for the government to force JH and CS parents to obtain traditional medical care for their children?

Why is it not a violation of religious freedom to deny polygamous marriage to those whose religions do not ban polygamy, and in some cases even encourage it ?

Should an individual private sector employer who is JH be legally entitled to eliminate insurance coverage for (often lifesaving) blood transfusions in policies for his company's employees?

In other words, when is it OK to restrict the religious liberty of individuals and when is it not OK?

 

 

 I read pope Francis: "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods"  and "Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance"  

I read your reply, Jim: "There is virtually nobody in the US who starves to death involuntarily, but a million or more human beings in the womb are aborted, year after year after year.  The scandal of abortion calls for unequivocal, vocal opposition.

I think that you are disagreeing with pope Francis. You don't want to fascinate and make the heart burn if that takes time away from condemning abortion. You refuse to consider the possibility that people fighting abortion have become obsessed with it. You think it is not possible that condemning abortion gets in the way of preaching the gospel. You cannot not be vocal against abortion. Fighting abortion is more important to you than proclaiming the good news. In that way, you are parting ways with pope Francis. Paul said over and over again: "Christ our redeemer is resurrected". You say over and over again: "Abortion is wrong."

 

 

 

I don't think you will get any argument about the numbers of abortions from me, Jim, but you seem pretty dismissive about the life-saving that goes on in caring for the poor, and I think that's not right. I have to think that maybe you just don't run into these sorts of life-saving works in your daily routine, so let me mention a few that I know about, that sisters do.

Safe houses for abused women save lives. Drug rehabilitation and work with parolees saves lives. In neighborhoods where there are gangs, youth programs save lives. Work with the mentally ill saves lives. Work with migrants and refugees saves lives. Social work with poor families, and among the disabled and the elderly, saves lives. Honestly, don't you realize that people die of neglect, or gunfire, or are beaten to death by their husbands or boyfriends, or die of drug overdoses, or abuse in the home? I am not dramatizing this, I just want to give credit for life-saving in all its forms. Nutrition isn't negligable in the life department, either.

I think that you are disagreeing with pope Francis. You don't want to fascinate and make the heart burn if that takes time away from condemning abortion. You refuse to consider the possibility that people fighting abortion have become obsessed with it. You think it is not possible that condemning abortion gets in the way of preaching the gospel. You cannot not be vocal against abortion. Fighting abortion is more important to you than proclaiming the good news. In that way, you are parting ways with pope Francis. Paul said over and over again: "Christ our redeemer is resurrected". You say over and over again: "Abortion is wrong."

Well, perhaps we should clear away this brush immediately: I'm certainly not discounting the possiblity of disagreeing with Pope Francis at some point on some issue or other.  But I don't think I'm disagreeing with him in this instance.

As it happens, fascinating and making the heart burn is what my ministry (in my own conception, anyway, and to the best of my probably-pretty-average abilities) is all about.  But this sort of a  dichotomy - we can't preach the Gospel and oppose abortion; we must choose one or the other, because one will crowd out the other - surely is false.  We must do both.  And feed the hungry.  And bring people to baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.  And help people encounter the living God.   And live the "little way".   And do many, many other things besides.  Living as a Christian is a full life commitment.  And it's necessary to keep Christian lives in balance.  

Pope Francis probably is implicitly criticizing Christians who don't maintain the proper balance.  The CDF critique of the LCWR should be read as a criticism of a ministry that is out of balance.  If anti-abortion advocacy is missing, if advocacy for the true nature of marriage is missing, if advocacy for holy married sexual relations is missing, then we're not living fully Christian lives.  None of us can do everything, but most of us can do more, and for a prominent organization like the LCWR, I don't think it's asking too much to ask it to lend its voice to what is, after all, the most important issue in American political and cultural life.  

 

Mollie: I suspect that your comment was directed to Ann Olivier, but it is hard to tell.  The "reply" function here is basically useless as it does not attach the reply to the comment to which it was directed.  The reply function is no different from the comment function.

The day after "America" published its interview with Pope Francis, the pontiff addressed a group of Catholic gynecologists.  He told them that, as a matter of "reason and science", that life in all its "phases" is always "sacred." He called abortion a product of a "widespread mentality of profit." He said that every aborted child is "unjustly condemned" and has the "face of the Lord." These remarks are reported NCR and also by RSN -

http://www.catholicnews.com/da...

 

 

Frank Gibbons, yes, Pope Francis did say that. The Associated Press (pace, Carl Anderson) reported it days ago. The pope was talking to gynecologists. That is about as in-context as it gets. He didn't repeat the same message to oilfield roustabouts, delicatessan owners, horticulturalists, lighting designers and used car salespeople, as some of our hierarchs would. Stay calm.

Frank, earlier today you passed along the totally dead canard about Congress being exempt from "Obamacare." Congress members and staff are treated exactlly like everybody else who is covered (as they are) by his or her employer. You asked for an explanation. That's it.

 

" We must do both.

Jim P. --

I agree. But prudence asks:  when?

But I think Frances' point (and I agree with it) is that sometimes you can overstate your case -- and understate it by merely repeating conclusions without giving solid premises)  and do more harm than good, at least in the long run.  

You have teen-agers.  Surely you know that after you've made your viewpoint clear it does little if any good to repeat your point, especially not loudly, and sometimes it just closes their ears and turns them away from you.  That's human nature.  If you want to change minds, you must persuade, and that requires 1) not making your opponent angry at you, 2) listening to what he/she says with real respect, 3) presenting data that is relevant, and 4) reasoning from that data.  Just repeating conclusions over and over just turns people off. 

I think that what Francis is saying is that first we have to really contact the other person *respectfully* and must convince them that the Church is concerned with the welfare of all God's children, not just the unborn. The unborn are not the only people involved in this debate, as Rita has pointed out so clearly.  First, voices need to be lowered and that is done by preaching the love of God for all His creatures.  Then the other side will start to listen -- but only if our arguments are persuasive.  (I happen to think that so far the arguments have not been articulated well enough for non-philosophers and non-theologians to understand them.  So that needs doing even before the persuasion can begin.)

Ann @ 8:22 -- Brava.

"...convince them that the Church is concerned with the welfare of all God's children, not just the unborn..."

This is essential. 

Tom Blackburn,

My "totally dead  canard" was a sincere question. The thread had moved to a discussion of the Affordable Care Act. I personally assign no perjorative connotation to the term "Obamacare". I was hoping for a sincere, reasoned response. I should have known that everything here is perceived through a jaded, cyncical and adversarial prism. By the way, I'd like a more detailed explanation than the one you gave.

As far as the pope's remarks on abortion are concered, I provided a link, not pace Carl Anderson, but from the Religious News Service, hardly a right-wing organ. 

The pope said that every aborted child is "unjustly condemned".  He's stating a reality.  I don't care where or to whom he said it, he said it and everyone needs to reflect on his words.  

 

 

"The pope said that every aborted child is "unjustly condemned".
 

Frank --

That's a conclusion.  It's not an argument.  Yes, it makes his conclusion clear, but mere conclusions do not pesuade.  He must do better, and get the moral theologians to do better.

Ann, I agree with you. I think pope Francis is a brilliant communicator and gives a wonderful example of applying the principles laid out in "Fulfilled in your hearing":

 

"First of all we can point to the great emphasis which communication theorists place on an accurate understanding of the audience if communication is to be effective. Unless a preacher knows what a congregation needs, wants, or is able to hear, there is every possibility that the message offered in the homily will not meet the needs of the people who hear it. To say this is by no means to imply that preachers are only to preach what their congregations want to hear. Only when preachers know what their congregations want to hear will they be able to communicate what a congregation needs to hear. Homilists may indeed preach on what they understand to be the real issues, but if they are not in touch with what the people think are the real issues, they will very likely be misunderstood or not heard at all. What is communicated is not what is said but it is what is heard, and what is heard is determined in large measure by what the header needs or wants to hear."

Frank, Here is a link that explains in detail why your concern about Congress and "Obamacare" is a canard. (Since 2010.)

http://www.factcheck.org/2013/08/no-special-subsidy-for-congress/

My prism is probably jaded after all these years, but not cynical. When I see the Congressional Exception, I immediately stand by for the Death Panels from the same poisoned well. That is experience, not cynicism.

I think -- and I know Pope Francis agrees because he said so -- that everyone within sound of the Church's voice has had a chance to reflect on abortion, but maybe not so many have had it convincingly brought to their attention that Jesus died for them. In yesterday's Gospel, Jesus send the disciples out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal the sick. Not a word specifically about abortion or defunding the Roman Empire.

Ann - I agree with everything you said at 9/25, 7:22 pm (may read as 8:22 for folks in the Eastern time zone?)

Rita - I hope to pick up our conversation later today or tomorrow, but don't have time at the moment.  On a personal note, though, next time you are in Chicago area and have some free time, email me and I'd be very pleased to have you accompany me on some of the things I do to help the poor.

Anne Chapman - very interesting questions which I haven't time to think about or respond to at the moment.  I'm sure religious liberty will pop up again at dotCom, probably soon :-).  Perhaps we can continue then?

 

Jim P - two other points about the current obsession by certain elements of the USCCB (versus what the LCWR does):

- to reinforce Rita's points:  http://www.catholica.com.au/editorial/e_01/053_edit_250913.php

(click on the Lazarus at the Gate document from the Australian Bishops Conference)

Some higlights:

         -  By 2015 almost a billion people will be living on an income of less than $1.25 per day.

         -  Over a quarter of a million women in our time die in childbirth.

  • Eight million children die every year from malnutrition and preventable disease.

And from the article published in NCR by Hans Kung:

"But he [Pope Francis] has not yet passed the decisive test of his will to reform. It is understandable and pleasing that a Latin American bishop puts the poor in the favelas of the great metropolises first. But the pope of the Catholic church cannot lose sight the fact that other groups of people in other countries suffer from other kinds of "poverty," and also yearn for the improvement of their situation. And these are people whom the pope can support even more directly than he can those in the favelas, for whom state organizations and society in general are primarily responsible."

Kung went on to enumerate three groups:  women, divorced, and former priests.

Finally, here is an example today from your good Cardinal in terms of focusing on one issue to the exclusion of a broader attempt to address societal issues (and based upon a misapplication of the old manualist moral theology)

http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/chicago-charities-work-fill-gap-left-loss-bishops-funding

Key passage:  "George responded that the board of the immigrant and refugee coalition, not he, cut the funding by endorsing same-sex marriage and said the church continues to support immigrants and immigration reform through other organizations."

One commenter sums it up well (my reference to manualist moral theology):

"It would seem from the article that the groups losing their CHD funding are working with the inner city poor and have an association with an immigration reform group that is presumably also working with the poor, ie immigrants. Several degrees of separation. The immigration reform group publically stated that, "a full respect for our State's and nation's diversity demands that we do not discriminate" (on same sex marriage laws in local, state and federal laws"...)

I wonder what Pope Francis would say about cutting off funding to groups that are protecting and assisting the poor because they had an association with a group that is also helping the poor (immigration reform which the bishops support) but had the temerity to also be supportive (not their working agenda) of gay civil and legal rights.

Somehow the degrees of separation from the actual poverty work of all these organizations would suggest to me that it is this poverty work that needs to be assisted and if one associated group has offered a statement of support that the bishops don't like....that is not sufficient reason to cut their funds.

This feels very political and not at all in the spirit of Francis's recent remarks...Francis, who very clearly supports the poor, and assistance to them."

This same reasoning applies to the Forenight for Freedom bishops - they are hung up on contraception (and abortion based upon their misread or lack of medical knowledge) and they justify this by citing religious liberty.  Yet, the Catholic Hospital Association (after ACA revisions) felt that there were enough degrees of separation that no business or owner would be forced into providing contraceptives against their religious beliefs.  You really have to stretch things to find that small business owners' religious liberty needs to be protected.

Safe houses for abused women save lives. Drug rehabilitation and work with parolees saves lives. In neighborhoods where there are gangs, youth programs save lives. Work with the mentally ill saves lives. Work with migrants and refugees saves lives. Social work with poor families, and among the disabled and the elderly, saves lives.

Rita - LCWR does all those things?  I assume you're referring to religious orders here, not the LCWR.  My understanding of the LCWR is that it is a forum for cooperation and coordination among leaders of religious orders, and a provider of training to leaders and officers, i.e. it's essentially an administrative organization (all of which is necessary and even holy work, to be sure).  The CDF's assessment states that the LCWR (not the religious orders that are members) is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death.  The reference to abortion and euthanasia in that particular statement is unmistakable.  Pope Francis doesn't say to be silent on those topics - he says to position them properly and talk about them in a context that modern people won't tune out.  Apparently, the LCWR can't find the words to talk about those things at all.  Shame on it.  

Pope Francis also has some direct and harsh words against what he calls ecclesiastical narcissism. "When the church does not come out of itself to evangelize, it becomes self-referential and then becomes sick".  At what and whom would that rebuke be directed?  Surely, among other things, at the sort of navel-gazing, rights-talk rhetoric that the CDF assessment terms "radical feminism".  

My overall point in this conversation is that Pope Francis is challenging Catholics from all over the spectrum to focus on what is truly important.  We know with certainty that the LCWR is not exempt from this program, as Francis has explicitly reaffirmed  that the reform process outlined in the CDF assessment is to continue on.

I don't disagree that some pro-life advocates were chided in the America interview.  I don't know that any bishops talk too much about abortion and contraception (nor that all of them don't), but I'd guess that many of us can think of homilists - priests and deacons - who seem to talk about those or similar topics virtually every time they get up to preach.  Even people who are quite sympathetic with that point of view, get tired of hearing that and only that all the time.  People hunger for the Gospel and the faith in its vast, intricate, comprehensive, interwoven beauty and integrity.  There are many ways to be a johnny one note.  Yammering about abortion all the time is one way.  Yammering about women priests all the time is another.  I view Francis' message as, "Stop yammering and preach the Gospel."

 

Though my Italian is somwhat uncertain, I made an effort to read "the original," as published in Civilta' Cattolica. I found this exercise more rewarding than my initial reading of the English text. Especially helpful was Father Spadaro's full interspersed commentary.

In his summation, Father Spadaro prefers to call his three meetings with Pope Francis "conversations" rather than an interview, and he mentions that the conversations as they occurred were at times a mix of Italian and Spanish.

I was struck on this second reading by how much this is a conversation between two Jesuits, steeped in and formed by Ignatian spirituality. Despite long experience, in graduate work, in the parish where I have been a member for many years, in a number of rewarding friendships with Jesuits, I have never been greatly attracted to the Ignatian method. If I have a spirituality at all, I would term it "Benedictine," or, even more, "liturgical." All of this to say that at times I didn't feel completely at home listening in on the "conversations." Not a major obstacle, but an occasional hindrance.  I do, however, think that Blessed Pierre Favre should be canonized. Soon.

--- --- ---

There have been many comments above on service to those in need. Today we celebrate a saint who  spent his life in such service, Vincent de Paul, and left as his continuing legacy the Congregation of the Mission and, with St. Louise de Marillac, the Daughters of Charity. The (Emmitsburg) Daughters have had a special place in our family's life since 1943. A blessed feast!

 

line 1: "somewhat" My eyes are too weary to find more.

Rev. Mr. Pauwels, where is your evidence that LCWR is "yammering about women priests all the time"?

It is undeniable that LCWR has a history of raising this issue --especially during an earlier period of the Church when the hierarchy did not expressly forbid it.  But even then, these faithful women of the Church were consistently outward focused, going to the margins, taking on the smell of the sheep, preaching the gospel.  They are models for the type of Church Francis is calling us to.  They were never and are not now "johnny on notes." (I will leave the discordant use of a male name because of my heroes from my youth was Sr. Patricia John )  They are especially not johnny one notes on woman's ordination. 

Jim, you ask me above, incredulously: "LCWR does all these things?"

Here is what I said: "...let me mention a few that I know about, that sisters do." These sisters belong to communities whose leadership participates in the LCWR. They stand together on this.

It's disingenuous to suggest that the censure of LCWR is unrelated to the sisters themselves.

Finally, after what seems forever, a plea from a pope to put ideology aside and focus on Jesus and the Good News.  We have been obsessed, with narrow vision, on abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage.  What about Jesus?  Who do we say he is?  As he asked us in today's Gospel.  This personal relationship with him is hindered by obsessions that seem like a worst-sin theology rather than a focus on our own personal sins and how they keep us from seeing and knowing Jesus.  Pope Francis acknowledged his sins.

 

Now with many "pro-life" Catholic Republicans in congress seeking to cut food for the poor (food stamps) certainly we can see the wisdom of the pope's words.  How can you be pro-life by literally taking food from the mouths of babies and nourishment from umbilical cords sustaining embryos and fetuses? A narrow focus on abortion can lead to just this type of thinking.     

That should be "his sinfulness."  He didn't confess his sins. 

Rita, I admit I've thought it is disingenuous of the LCWR and its supporters to defend LCWR by referring, not to LCWR properly (which really is the subject of the CDF assessment), but to the good works that individual sisters and their orders do.  So what say we call a truce on mutual accusations of disingenuity and agree that many sisters do important, critical, Gospel-driven work that models Christian living to all of us; that any organization, whether it is the Holy See or a collection of religious orders in the US, needs an administrative layer to function effectively; and the administrative layer should not be immune from criticism or reform when it is just and necessary.

I am sure my comments here betray that I am at least somewhat sympathetic to the findings of the assessment, i.e. that at least some aspects of the assessment are just, and that some reform on the part of the LCWR is necessary.  I know that many people here disagree vehemently.  I don't wish to push my point of view here too hard on this matter.  I read and think about all of the things that are said in defense of the LCWR here, and concede that many of these points are good and valid ones.  In the wake of the assessment's publication, I was pretty pessimistic that things could be patched up between the LCWR and church authorities; I was quite worried that we were headed for a crack-up.  I have seen one or two signs, of which the election of Francis is an important one, that this may still be averted.  It would be bad for everyone involved - and all of us are stakeholders - if the split between the church and the sisters becomes wider than it is.  I don't wish to contribute to widening that split, nor to avoid the truths that are at the root of the current division.  Keeping those two goals in healthy tension is not easy in public comments, and I'm sure I haven't done an exemplary job on this score.

The bottom line on all this is that, in my view, the LCWR needs to accept that some reform is necessary.  Without that acceptance, I don't really see a way for tensions to de-escalate.  But there is always more time for wisdom and humility to prevail, and religious sisters in the US are very strong in those two virtues.

 

Jim, you seem to have missed my point entirely. But let's let it go. This thread is getting old.

Jim P,  if you would like some time to think about the implications of the bishops push to have Catholic teaching enshrined by law, then please do so.  Because it is important.  The Catholic church is not the only church that has had to realize that religious liberty has limits when it involves the private sector.

Where do the religious liberty rights of any single individual in the private sector end? 

What of the religious liberty of those who disagree with  laws that are passed that reflect the specific teachings of one particular group within any given religion?  

What of those who don't believe the laws should apply to them personally because of their religious beliefs(such as laws requiring that faces be uncovered for official IDs)? 

Religious liberty does not simply apply to Roman Catholics - it must apply to all.

The provisions in the Affordable Care Act that the bishops object to are probably the best compromise available in order to be fair to all and to respect the rights of all. Specifically religious institutions are exempt, as they should be. But applying these exemptions to every single private sector employer in the United States who can claim any kind of "religious" beliefs he or she wants to claim could open the door to a lot of undesirable consequences and abuse.

The common good in a religiously pluralistic society sometimes means that private individuals may not havea right to absolute religious liberty - from the Muslim woman who must remove the veil for her driver's license photo to the owner of a hobby store that serves the general public.

Whatever might be said by or of Pope Francis, what gives me the greatest hope is the interest of those who have felt the church out of touch.  My oldest son of nine children reported to me that three of his fellow graduates from both Seattle Prep and University, all Catholics, for the first time since graduation while playing golf together actually discussed their faith and what it means to them in response to their joy in the renewed emphasis of our new Holy Father about what Jesus gave as his message: "Love one another as I have loved you."  That in essence is what is frustrating about the overemphasized condemnatory pre-occupation of "no no" that has so taken the current church.  We need the renewed emphasis on what Jesus said about the least of these: "I was hungry and you gave me to eat; thirsty and you gave me to drink; etc."   They finally have some hope that the emphsis of our Catholic Church message might become Christian in deed again, and they are responding.

Frank Gibbons, you asked, "Why is Congress being granted an exemption from having to enroll in Obamacare?  "

... and I believe Grant referred you to a factcheck.org article.  Here is another explanatio, this time in National Review, that I found more clear than the factcheck explanation.  The situation is more complicated than the politically-fueled rhetoric would lead one to think.  

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/359742/obamacare-non-exemption-patrick-brennan

 

I also am inclined to agree with anything that Alex Ross says.  I didn't realize he had commented on the pope.  I have his book.  And I do read his column in the New Yorker. I don't think he actually knew Wagner or Mahler, but he does know their music.  He also seems to know the pontiff.  A treat to get his perspective.    

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment