Some years ago I asked in a column, "If the church ordained women would there be fewer abortions?" I suggested that recognizing women as fully equal with men would have obviated centuries of the repression, injustice, and pain inflicted on women and cleared the air of the edgy suspicion and anxiety with which many men, including church leaders, have regarded women throughout the centuries.
Bulletins from the Human Side
The beleaguered Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with the sex abuse crisis like a shy bachelor who holds back from stepping onto the dance floor at the parish social. A lifetime of dealing abstractly with men and women from the safe perch of a classroom podium did not exactly prepare him for the immersion in the human rhythms of intimacy that define the dance even on church property.
You can tell them, as the Gospel puts it, a long way off. They are so puffed up with the hot air of self righteousness they resemble a covey of balloons jouncing against each other as they wait for take-off.
These are not just Catholics who want to preserve the Catholic values they cherish; they are rather those who, as careless of the truth as political consultants, sling mud at followers of Vatican II. If they took any more pleasure in denouncing the latter as "cafeteria Catholics" they would almost certainly commit a mortal sin.
Last week, within three days, bishops from three different countries -- Germany, Ireland, and Belgium -- resigned because of being involved, passively or actively or actively and passively in the sex abuse crisis.
Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi announced that the church wanted “truth, transparency, and credibility.”
Catholicism is routinely described by the media as if St. Peter's fronted on the O.K. Corral; the white smoke rises not from a papal election but from the daily gun battle between so called traditionalists and progressives over grazing rights to the famous Square. At other times the latter are termed conservatives and liberals. Religion writers may soon describe them as Vatican Firsters or Vatican Seconders.
If you want to make a monsignor smile or a bishop nod sagely, check the box that marks “practicing Catholic” on any questionnaire or form handed to you. “Practicing Catholic” is a phrase as smoothly worn as St. Peter's sculpted foot in St. Peter’s Basilica by appreciative hierarchs and pastors who know what they are looking for in Church members.
“Practicing Catholics” are not your “Once a Year at Christmas or Easter” parishioners; they are rather the steady army awaiting orders as they patiently carry the colors of Catholicism across the modern world.
Tiger Woods’s imminent return to golf outranks the Johnny Carson show wedding of Tiny Tim or Madonna’s to Sean Penn at Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch as an event whose anticipation so outweighs its moral significance. Speculation on how he will perform, on the course that is, will be followed by more pundit comments than any night on Cable News.