CLYDE, Mo. -- Sr. Dawn, who met us when we arrived at the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration monastery here, used to be what I still am -- a Presbyterian. Same story with Sr. Sean, the prioress.
A small c catholic
For decades now I’ve watched Catholics debate whether to ordain women as priests, an issue that flared again recently when the Vatican named “attempted women’s ordination” among “grave crimes.”
First Catholics and later Protestants engaged in what scholar Dyron B. Daughrity calls "two great waves of Christian missions: the Catholic wave in the 1500s and the Protestant wave in the 1800s." One of the targets of this evangelism was Africa, which in recent decades has seen astonishing Christian expansion.
Several years ago I audited a two-semester course on Christian history at an American Baptist seminary in the Kansas City area.
I wasn't required to take the pop quizzes, though I did. Nor was I required to write the required six papers, though I did that, too.
And rarely a week goes by now that I don't feel good about my decision to be an overachiever.
In speeches and columns over many years I have made the point that interfaith understanding is vital if there's to be any hope for world peace.
And America — a stunning amalgam of ethnic and religious traditions — can be a model for the world in this regard.
In fact, if the call of the 20th century for Americans was to work toward racial harmony, the call of the 21st century is to seek religious harmony in our increasingly pluralistic culture.
An old joke about us Presbyterians says that if we had been in charge of organizing the Last Supper it inevitably would have been called the Last Potluck Supper.
Catholics, in my experience, match Protestants’ love of eating meals together. But the reality is that neither group in the U.S. does very well when it comes to thinking about eating ethically.
Here's what know-nothing Protestants are tempted to say these days: "What's the deal with Catholics holding most of the seats on the U.S. Supreme Court? John Paul Stevens is the only Protestant left -- and if Elena Kagan joins the bench, the new court would have six Catholics and three Jews."
For almost a year now, I’ve been doing something in my Presbyterian church that Catholics don’t get (or have) to do.
I’ve been serving on a pastor nominating committee. Our job is to search for a new senior pastor and, when we’ve found one, recommend that our congregation vote to call him or her (yes, Presbyterians have been ordaining women since 1956 — and I even know that now-retired first ordained female.)
Ever since I began reading about the priest sexual abuse scandal years ago, I have wondered whether Protestants would have handled it any better than Catholics have.
I doubt it, although Protestant failures almost certainly would have been different from Catholic miscarriages.