From Where I Stand: The church could use this opportunity to do a little demystifying to better connect with the 21st-century world.
From Where I Stand
From Where I Stand: On Valentine's Day, stand up for the women treated as things, beaten and bruised, used and exploited sexually.
From Where I Stand: It's true, yes, that being without a gun can get a person killed, but it is also true that simply having a gun does not guarantee survival.
From Where I Stand: I get a lot of questions in my mail, many of them personal, many of them professional -- meaning ones that are usually requests for comments or articles.
It happened in the midst of LCWR's pending visitation from Rome on the viability and depth of commitment in orders of women religious in the United States.
One of Rome's great concerns about U.S. religious orders of women, it seems, is the lack of young early adult vocations in the United States today. Why U.S. women's orders, in the face of large-scale decline in numbers of both religious and priests in Europe as well, should merit such special attention on this subject, I'm not sure. I do think, however, that the subject in general needs to be rethought and perhaps reframed. Even by religious orders themselves.
Here's an American statistic for you about "American exceptionalism" that seems to get lost under the headlines about a slowly recovering economy and a growing number of billionaires. This figure -- at least between attempted massacres like in Austin, Texas, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Aurora and the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, to name a few -- rarely surfaces. The fact that we lose 48,000 people a year in this country to the attacks of private people using privately owned guns seldom makes headlines. Only the atrocities they leave behind them sell newspapers.
This month, it was the Leadership Conference of Women Religious that bishops were concerned about. Before that, it was Catholic Charities in the United States. Then it was Caritas, the church's umbrella organization for the coordination of international charity. And now it is the Girl Scouts. Each of them has been curtailed, "investigated" or put in some kind of canonical receivership because of their reputed lack of orthodoxy on sexual issues or because of association with other groups that, according to the bishops, have the same problem. And all of that in the face of the sex abuse debacle of the church itself, still to be resolved, never monitored, and totally closed to outside investigation.
"Actions speak louder than words." We love to repeat this old saying. I believed it once. But recently I've begun to question the value of that position as never before. I've come to understand that what I really want is to hear people commit to something. I want to hear people say what they want me to think they believe. I want them to say it in public, say it in legal documents, say it in catechisms, say it in Encyclicals. Say it ...
"There is meaning in every journey," Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "that is unknown to the traveler." I travel a great deal. I travel more often and miles further than most of the people I know. Trust me: Bonhoeffer knew of which he spoke. That statement is not only true, it is life-changing. When we learn what we are not looking for, that kind of education reshapes the soul.
This column is late. Months late. Years late, actually. But I admit that it writes itself in my head almost every day. This month, there were two separate situations that require it be said rather than simply thought.
Last week, Rush Limbaugh, popular voice of far-right politics, used his position on the airwaves to insult, label and pronounce on the sexual motivations of a young Georgetown law school student who testified on behalf of the coverage of contraceptive medicine in national health care insurance plans.