It's August. The close of this year's round of conventions has freed hotels for vacationers seeking respit from the every day. Folks at home on rainy summer afternoons are off to the movies. Both hotels and movies may bring up issues we'd rather not recall.
Not long after the Irish government's report on the Cloyne diocese smashed into the public eye, the Irish Prime Minister delivered an eloquent speech before the Irish Parliament in which he decried "the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism … the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day."
The Vatican's response is delayed. It seems the pertinent Vatican officials are on vacation.
Maybe because it is summer and tempers tend to flare along with the temperature, there is a lot of anger in blog posts and Twitter feeds about the land. The church's social media blood pressure seems very, very high.
There is a fist fight on between the Ultra-Left and an Ultra-Right.
Will the Center hold?
I don't think the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in New York state was as much a victory for its proponents as it was a defeat for the coalition of religious leaders -- especially the Catholic bishops -- who opposed it.
In the public debate, one side was "pro" and the other side was "anti." That is the heart of the public relations situation. The bishops walked the negative side of the street.
In a worldwide telecast, the National Broadcasting Company dropped God from the Pledge of Allegiance. The website for “The Manhattan Declaration” says don’t worry about it because the network apologized, so it’s OK.
It is not OK.
At the start of its Fathers’ Day broadcast of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, NBC re-wrote the Pledge, twice omitting the words “under God.” The annual golf extravaganza telecast opened with patriotic B-roll and voice-over of children reciting the doctored Pledge of Allegiance, military personnel saluting the flag, and historic footage of golfers wildly celebrating their winning the championship.
“The Manhattan Declaration” folks picked up on it. Their 2009 manifesto -- spearheaded by Princeton professor Robert P. George, Samford (Alabama) Divinity dean Timothy George, and evangelist Chuck Colson -- restates Americans’ freedoms not to support abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage. “The Manhattan Declaration” website argues strongly for religious values in civic life. But its blogger says we should forgive and forget about NBC rewriting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Testosterone is in the news again from coast to coast. The new reality TV follows the misadventures of over-sexed men, their victims, and their defenders. It looks like a cartoon about a dysfunctional high school.
Reading from the left, in California Arnold Schwarzenegger (football coach), gets a housekeeper pregnant and lies about it for 15 years or so while his wife raises their son, born a few days earlier.
Lots of news about sex and money lately. First an international financier is alleged to have raped a hotel maid. Then the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops blames societal changes for sixty years of creeps run rampant. Same story, different emphasis.
It looks like the church is developing parallel universes.
To the left are writers and a few bishops who think some topics shouldn't be swept under the Vatican carpet; their stories gone viral. To the right are card-carrying genuine real live Catholics whose often angry blogs support their idea of the One True Faith.
Most of us are in the middle. Daily battered by a tsunami of information, we are increasingly selective of what messages we receive. So we choose.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Vatican City State, Europe
Forgive my presumption in addressing you directly, but the matter I bring is both urgent and pressing. Women are no longer walking away from the church. They are running away. They are running toward churches that make it clear women are made in the image and likeness of God.
Remember when folks used to get arrested demonstrating against abortion? Now they get arrested demonstrating for it. The latest teledrama: the mayor of Washington, D.C., wants to spend his federal budget dollars on abortion. Hello? It’s the District of Columbia, a federal territory and the permanent national capital provided for in the Constitution.