It was no surprise when, last week, Bill Keller's New York Times column declaring that progressive and liberal Catholics should leave the church, received a seemingly endless screed of online comments, as well as Facebook shares, tweets and recurring spins on blog rolls.
Grace on the Margins
With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's very public battle against same-sex marriage and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's recent condemnation of Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley's sexual ethics book, Just Love, it seems hard to remember a time when the Roman Catholic Church wasn't fixated on LGBT issues.
In "Taking a Chance on God," Irish-born filmmaker Brendan Fay reminds us that not only is this struggle relatively new in church history, but the momentum behind the movement began with one courageous priest and his groundbreaking book.
Those wondering what the laity's response to the LCWR crisis might mean for the future of the church justice movement needed only look at the front steps of New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral on the very warm evening of May 29.
More than 150 people gathered to hold a vigil in honor of women religious. The vigil was part of a movement spearheaded by Nun Justice, which called for peaceful protests at cathedrals throughout the country on three consecutive Tuesdays in the month of May.
Only weeks after taking a broad swipe at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has returned to its more typical routine of taking aim at individual theologians.
The latest target is Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley, professor emeritus of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School, and her 2006 book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.
Much has been made in recent months about an ad placed in The New York Times urging liberal and nominal Catholics to "quit the church" because it can never be changed from within, and to participate in it is to cooperate with its oppressive system.
The ad was paid for by an organization called the Freedom from Religion Foundation. But the more I reflect on both the ad and the behavior of our hierarchy lately, there is part of me that wouldn't be surprised if we learned that the Vatican itself had secretly paid for the advertisement.
As I listen to the fallout from President Obama's announcement that he supports marriage equality, I have been struck particularly by the argument that marriage between a man and a woman is superior to committed relationships between same-sex partners.
Official Roman Catholic teaching bases this belief on the theory of natural law, arguing that all sex acts must take place within the state of marriage and must have the potential to create new life. This is why, according to the doctrine, sexual intercourse must always be involved in any sexual activity between a wife and husband.
Since same-sex couples do not have "complementing genders" and, therefore, cannot procreate, their relationships are by their very nature inferior. Having read Aristotle's and Aquinas's theory of natural law, I believe that the church has taken a very rich idea and reduced it to purely the level of biological function.
It is an interesting commentary on the state of the church when the most well-attended event in Yale Divinity School's recent history is a lecture not by a minister or theologian, but by a physician.
On April 26, Dr. Paul Farmer, chairman of Harvard Medical School's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, addressed the Divinity School community on "The Corporal Works of Mercy and the 21st-century Struggle Against Poverty."
In his Holy Thursday sermon, Pope Benedict XVI made headlines for criticizing those who refuse to obey the church's position on the ordination of celibate men. He traced his argument back to Christ's obedience to the will of God.
"His concern was for true obedience," Benedict said, "as opposed to human caprice."
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported on social service groups who are being denied funding by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development because of supposed alliances with organizations that support equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender persons.
The article focuses on Compañeros, a small, Colorado-based organization that aids Latino immigrants with access to health care and legal advice.
This is the second part of Jamie Manson's interview with theologian and writer Matthew Fox. Part I can be found here.
You begin your most recent book, The Pope's War, by taking a look at the childhood of Pope Benedict XVI and his time in Hitler Youth. How do you think that experience might have impacted his view of the church?