And now, an end-of-week summary of news (and other) commentary on matters churchy, especially the Catholic synod on the family:
I grew up watching movies in which the Catholic church was the hero. "The Sound of Music." "The Bells of St. Mary's." Even "Sister Act."
Now, the church I love seems more easily portrayed as the villain. In "Love Is Strange," members of the hierarchy separated and hurt two people in love. The movie I saw the week before, "Calvary," was a tragic take on the sex abuse crisis in the Irish Catholic church.
I walked out of the theater both times asking: How can I love a church that causes so much pain?
Consolamini at What Sister Never Knew and Father Never Told You (thanks, Jim McCrea):
Just check out the Katholic Krazies and their blogs about the SinNod as they have retitled it. Their usual hysterics totally miss the point about what is happening because they want to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that the toothpaste of the modern world can be put back into the tube of Ozzie and Harriet.
Tina Beattie in The Guardian (thanks, Chris Morley):
For those who take for granted the values of progressive liberalism, the Catholic church seems like a creakingly anachronistic institution. As a feminist I am treated with incredulity by those who cannot understand why I remain within the church, particularly when I am repeatedly censored because I speak out on issues such as same-sex marriage and women’s ordination.
John Paul’s "contraceptive mentality" conflated abortion and contraception, laying the groundwork for much of the anti-contraception mentality that exists on the right today, while his other great rhetorical sleight-of-hand was to place both abortion and contraception under what he labeled a "culture of death" that valued expediency and personal fulfillment.
The official photos of the opening [of the synod] tell the story better than any comment an informed theologian might offer. The plethora of men in vestments, the dearth of women in any form (except the painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary), and the conspicuous absence of children (save little Jesus in his mother’s arms) speak volumes about the meeting.
Jack Jenkins at Think Progress on a letter conservative Christians have sent to Pope Francis telling him to hold the (i.e., their) line on marriage:
The signers of the letter are a veritable who's-who of Catholic "marriage activists," people who advocate for conservative concepts of marriage, sexuality, and gender roles. Signatories include Robert P. George, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and former chairman of the National Organization for Marriage; Mark Regnerus, sociology professor at University of Texas at Austin and author of deeply controversial report on same-sex parenting; Alan Sears, President of the right-wing legal group Alliance Defending Freedom; Ryan T. Anderson of The Heritage Foundation, who infamously sparred with gay marriage advocates and Piers Morgan on CNN; Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard Law School professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican; and Crystalina and Jason Evert, founders of the Chastity Project, an effort "focused solely on promoting purity."
Over and over again, journalists [covering the synod] are being told there will be no change in doctrine.
Jesuit Fr. Bernard Lonergan, the great 20th-century expert in theological method, is turning over in his grave. Hearing such language, Lonergan would have said that the bishops are caught in classical mentality and have not moved into a historical consciousness.
What’s evolving isn’t so much a battle over doctrine but a fight for the soul of the church. Francis and his allies are promoting a vision of the church that’s much more live-and-let-live, repeatedly turning to the word "mercy" to describe how they view the application of doctrine to the actual lives of Catholics, guided by a sense of the larger mission of the church as spreading the Gospel, not enforcing laws.
Whoopi Goldberg on "The View" by way of David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement:
You cannot stem this tide. It is coming whether you're comfortable with it or not. For all of you folks who are deep Christians, as I recall as a child, I remember Jesus had a lot of different kinds of friends. Jesus never turned anybody away.