Saturday, October 26
Paul Wellstone, R.I.P.
Though I vigorously disagreed with him on abortion, I admired his principled stances on many issues. He was an outspoken and plainspoken voice for the poor and oppressed. May Paul Wellstone, his wife, daughter, and the others who died yesterday, rest in peace.
Thursday, October 24
Some data about the orientation and orthodoxy of priests
This article from Sunday's LA Times (link requires registration) reports results of a survey of priests about their sexual orientation.
The Times poll of priests asked respondents to characterize their sexual orientation. A combined 15% identified themselves as homosexual (9%) or "somewhere in between, but more on the homosexual side" (6%). But among younger priests -- those ordained for 20 years or less -- the figure was 23%.
The figures, particularly for the younger priests, are higher than most estimates of the percentage of U.S. gay men, but lower than some estimates of the percentage of homosexuals in the priesthood, which have ranged up to 50%.
Then, in Monday's LA Times, other results from the poll (along with more links about the poll and its results) were published:
Younger Roman Catholic priests in the United States are markedly more conservative than their elders, a Los Angeles Times poll has found, reflecting a global trend toward Christian orthodoxy that is reshaping the world's largest church.
Clerics under age 41 expressed more allegiance to the clerical hierarchy, less dissent against traditional church teachings, and more certainty about the sinfulness of homosexuality, abortion, artificial birth control and other moral issues than did their elders, the poll found.
First of all, the Times survey should help mute some of the speculation about the number of homosexual priests. But, for my money, the more important finding is the changing trend regarding Church teaching. Younger priests are unapologetic about the Church's teaching, even if they might be ashamed of how some of their brother priests (and bishops) have behaved. I suspect these younger (like the oldest priests they mirror) would argue that the current problems in the Church are largely a result of a failure to teach and live by the truths of the Church.
This is a sure sign of hope for the future of the Church in America. Moreover, this trend seems to be continuing among men at this seminary. As I see things, there are very few "Cafeteria Catholics" in formation here. And that's no surprise. In a time when the priesthood and the Church are embattled, it is rather implausible that a man with lukewarm beliefs would make the sacrifices required to become a priest.
Wednesday, October 23
Last Sunday's Gospel presented a good opportunity to preach about life and our political responsibilities as Catholic Americans. (God knows, those in Michigan need to think hard about these issues, especially in light of the furor over the Catholic Democratic Gubernatorial candidate's views on abortion.) Fr. Rob Johansen did just that. Read his homily here.
Monday, October 21
And a sign that plenty of work remains
If you haven't seen this letter by three current (and one former) priests defending Michigan Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Granholm's stance on abortion, go read it. And prepare to be scandalized, outraged, and/or perplexed.
For various takes on the letter and its authors, go here, here, here, and here.
Another sign God's still at work in the Church
Alex Jones had been a Pentecostal minister for nearly 30 years, almost 20 of them as pastor of his own church, but when he was confirmed at St. Suzanne�s Catholic Church in Detroit last year, he told the parish priest, "I�m home."
Mr. Jones, the former pastor of Maranatha Church in Detroit, became a Catholic with his wife, Donna, and 62 other members of the congregation he had started in 1982, culminating a several-year process that started with a study of the roots of the Christian church.
Since then, he has been leading a weekly Bible study at St. Suzanne�s, studying for a master�s degree at Detroit�s Sacred Heart Seminary, and speaking at conferences, parish missions, and retreats.
Recently, he became associate director of the Sign Me Up evangelization project of the Archdiocese of Detroit and hopes to seek ordination as a deacon.
Mr. Jones said he came into the church with no agenda. "I came here to learn and to sit and to discover all the teachings of the church. While I�m here and my eyes are adjusting to the light, I see things I can contribute, too. One thing I can contribute is my passion for Christ, my love for Him, and seek to spread that to those around me" . . .
When he finally became Catholic, Mr. Jones said he felt that all of his wanderings were over. "Just about every convert to the church has that feeling of coming home. This is the big house and we�ve been living out in the yard in tents. So we folded our tent and came into the big house."
May there be many more like Alex! And let's pray for lots of good fruit from his work with Sign Me Up.
(Thanks, Amy, for the link.)
Sunday, October 20
Praise for the Pontiff, his purpose, and his proposal
Peggy Noonan offers a wonderful reflection on the Pope's leadership and his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Even if you've already read the Pope's letter, read Peggy's piece. Here's her bold opening (and it just gets better):
John Paul II marked the start of the 25th year of his papacy, now figured to be the fourth longest in history, with a startling announcement in St Peter's Square: He does not intend to resign but will let the Boss decide when he should leave, and by the way he has decided to change the rosary, the daily devotion Catholics have recited for 900 years. Now the pope has many issues vying for his attention, including his decision Thursday for reject the American bishops' plan for dealing with clergy sex abuse, but it is actually hard to imagine a more dramatic and far-reaching decision than the addition of the "luminous mysteries," for it will literally change how millions of ardent believers pray each day for peace.
(Thanks, Mark, for the link.)