Browsing "Vatican"
Jun 28, 2015 - Social Justice, Vatican    No Comments

Poem: But


A heart shaped out of flames

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You were created in the image of the Divine…

You are treasured by the Beloved…

Jesus loved those on the margins best…

You deserve respect…

You are intrinsically disordered.
You’re only holy if you’re celibate. That’s your gift.
It’s against God’s wishes that you marry.
If you do marry, you are cut off from the Eucharist.
Which was meant for all sinners, but not sinners like you.
You can’t teach our children.
No matter what talent you have for inspiring them.
Or even come to family dinners where children might be present.
(Your corruption can be spread when passing the butter.)
Or even have happy families of your own. That’s just not possible.

It’s because we love our Church that we say this.
One Holy, Catholic, Immutable Church.
We’re caught, you see, between you,
and these immutable laws we wrote down,
in permanent ink,
that can’t be changed,
despite what the Divine is showing us
ever more forcefully,
through the witness of the people,
and the signs of the times,
that are themselves written in heartbeat red,
demanding attention.

And we love the sinner, hate the sin.
Love, you see, is narrow,
and unkind,
and to be earned, or withheld,
on our say so,
because we know the will of God,
and your love
So we can’t.


Under this weight of “buts”,
you still love.
You are, in fact,
a crucible,
for love.
Your love is questioned,
and taunted,
denied, shunned,
and hated.
Yet, you love.
And show facets of love maybe not yet discovered,
or, before this, known only to the Divine.
Love 2.0.
Full-stop love,
with no buts implied.

Gratefully overwhelmed

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Dear Pope Francis,

Well, if you ever want to see a spike in blog traffic, write about falling in with Anglicans. I am so happily overwhelmed with the response to that post. As of today, it’s had 3300 views and people have left some really amazing and thoughtful comments that I very much appreciate. It was even shared on Reddit. It seems many folks resonated with what I expressed in that post.

Honestly, I did not expect such a response. I felt like getting my thoughts on attending an Anglican parish onto the blog, and so I sat down and wrote. I never imagined it would be shared so widely. I’m truly grateful to everyone who read it and passed it on.

If I’ve learned anything from the response to the post is that there’s a restlessness among many Catholics and a desire to see a church that reflects a living embodiment of our faith. Many people have also expressed a desire to see the walls come down between faith communities and, ultimately, around the Divine. There are so many rules that do more to keep people from fully experiencing a living, loving God rather than bringing them into a closer relationship with the Beloved. Catholic, by definition, means universal, and I think we’ve been falling short of that name for quite awhile.

I’m excited by the dialogue created around my post, especially the interfaith response. I think it’s a sign that we’re on our way to something new, something big, as we all grow in our understanding of the Divine Mystery. I, for one, can’t wait to see what evolves.

Your friend,


Aug 8, 2014 - Vatican    No Comments

Cry out, sisters, cry out

Dear Pope Francis —

I know you’re busy, but I’m sure you must have heard that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is holding their annual meeting next week. They have a great plenary speaker, Sister Elizabeth Johnson. She is a noted theologian who has written several important books on the nature of our relationship to the Divine. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks she’s amazing. Tellingly, it’s mostly men who think this, and it’s mostly men who have criticized the LCWR for having her as a speaker. Interesting, that.

This is also something of a watershed meeting for the LCWR. After the meeting, the organization will fall squarely under the purview of U.S. bishops tapped by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to oversee the group. Again, men have been tapped by to tell a group of intelligent, dedicated, devout women how they should exist in the Church. Interesting, that.

I think Sister Joan Chittister sums this up pretty well in a piece published today by the National Catholic Reporter:

Next week, for instance, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will face decisions that will move the question of the agency of women in a man’s church either forward or back. Strange as it may seem in the 21st century, the issue is whether or not women are capable of hearing diverse speakers and still remain faithful Catholics. The issue is whether or not women religious may discuss various points of view on major issues and still remain faithful Catholics. The issue is whether or not women religious can manage their own organizations and still be faithful Catholics. The Vatican’s answer to those questions is no. For the last 45 years, however, LCWR’s answer to those same questions has been a clear and persistent yes.

That same article includes a link to a petition asking you, Pope Francis, to personally intervene in the situation. I do hope you’ll consider it. You’ve been doing a lot of intervening lately. I think the LCWR deserves some attention and support.

Your friend,


Mar 9, 2014 - Vatican    No Comments

Lent 2014 (First Sunday): Pssst…Something is rotten in Oakland


Dear Pope Francis,

So, I know you had all the bishops home to the mother ship recently, but I think someone wasn’t listening.

Apparently the new Bishop of Oakland, Bill Edens, has dismissed two much loved priests at Newman Hall Parish without any consultation with parishioners. He also did it without any explanation.

I think someone needs a phone call.

Your friend,


Why Jesus should sue for trademark infringement

Jesus Facepalm

Dear Pope Francis —

If Jesus had a legal team — and, he probably wouldn’t, given his “turn the other cheek” philosophy, but let’s just assume he did — I think they would be hurriedly drafting cease-and-desist orders against many, many folks for infringing on his trademark. That law office would be churning out paperwork 24/7.

Individuals, companies and organizations trademark names and logos to ensure they are not used by others in a way that would cause either a negative impression or confusion in the marketplace. Using a protected name or logo in a way that dilutes the real owner’s brand is called trademark infringement. In other words, I can’t put computers together with spare parts lying around my house, slap a sticker of an apple with a bite out of it on them, and sell them as Macs. For one, they’re unlikely to work like a Mac. For another, they’re not a true representation of the company’s product.

There is a lot of brand dilution going on out there when it comes to Jesus. Many people claim to be acting in his name, but they likely aren’t his licensed representatives. Or, they haven’t looked at the terms of their licensing contract in a long, long while. If they did, they would find themselves in serious breach of Jesus’ trademark rights.

A few top contenders:

1) The Arizona and Kansas state legislatures. Both of these legislative bodies have recently either contemplated or passed laws that would legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals. (The Catholic Church in Kansas supported that state’s law.) The laws stipulate that businesses have a right, on religious (i.e. Christian) grounds, to refuse service to individuals if doing so would compromise the business owner’s values. This is being done, so lawmakers say, in the spirit of religious freedom. I’m not sure what Bible these folks are reading, but Jesus served everyone during his life. He didn’t care who they were, he treated them all equally and with dignity. Encouraging discrimination in Jesus’ name is definitely trademark infringement.

2) Archbishop Myers of New Jersey. I have nothing against providing a comfortable retirement for clergy. Many of them spend their entire lives in service to the Catholic community. However, comfortable should not mean extravagant, especially when so many of our seniors live in poverty. Jesus’ original followers essentially traveled with a pair of sandals and the clothes on their backs. I’m not sure any of them had a mansion with two pools waiting for them when they retired from spreading the Gospel. I don’t think they would have secluded themselves away from the community they’d served, either. This is certainly a breach of Jesus’ trademark license that anyone who purports to serve him should be following.

3) “Christian” politicians who cut aid to the poor. Many of the politicians decrying aid to the poor as a drain on the economy and government self-identify as Christian. I don’t think I need to add anything else to this. It speaks for itself.

4) Clergy who deny sacraments to people they don’t approve of. Whether it’s politicians who have Pro-Choice voting records, or LGBT individuals denied communion or last rites, sacraments should not be used as weapons. You, Pope Francis, have even spoken out against this practice. Jesus ministered to everyone and welcomed everyone into his embrace. That compassionate welcoming was the first sacrament. Why are we not following this example?

I realize that calling out these examples might be just as judgmental and wrong as those who paint others as bad Christians or bad Catholics. That’s fair. However, I think there is a real danger in this Jesus brand dilution. Jesus said “By their fruits you will recognize them.” I don’t think these folks are bad people. I just think they have a misguided view of what Jesus stood for. That might be fine if their views did not affect others, but they do. And, their actions reflect back on all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus. This is why I find such examples so distressing. I encounter many people who discount — even despise — Christians because these are the examples they see. These “fruits” stand in for all of us, and that’s what upsets me.

This is one of the reasons I’m so grateful for you, Pope Francis. Your focus on the poor as well as compassion puts you in much closer alignment, in my view, with Jesus than many, many of your predecessors.

I think it’s time for all of us to have a closer look at Jesus’ trademark — and make sure we’re not infringing.

(By the way, I wrote a poem about this.)

Your friend,


Aug 16, 2013 - Vatican    No Comments

Day 58: No, he didn’t listen

Dear Pope Francis,

So, Archbishop Sartain spoke to the LCWR today. After meeting with representatives yesterday. Did he listen?

Well, if his sermon today at a Mass for the LCWR delegates was any indication, I’d say no.

It’s long past when male leaders in the Church should invoke Mary as a symbol for women and point out her submissiveness. It’s wrong. And I’m tired of it. It does a disservice to women, and Mary.

It’s time for new language and new images for women in the Church.

Your friend,


Jul 31, 2013 - Vatican    No Comments

Day 44: Not enough

Dear Pope Francis,

It’s with a bit of reluctance that I write today’s post. The reason is that I’ve come to like you and what you seem to stand for. You’ve been a breath of fresh air and I have taken heart from much of what you’ve said since becoming Pope.

But I have a real problem with your recent comments on the role of women and gay people in the Church.

I realize I’m going against the grain here, and I’m not wanting to criticize. I, like many others, was at first astounded that you addressed the issue of gay priests. You used the word “gay,” for example, which was a first for any Pope. You used much softer, more accepting language. And you said “Who am I to judge?” which was a significant admission.

And yet.

While your words were more pastoral, you did not indicate a change in doctrine. At the same time as you signalled acceptance, calling gay priests “brothers”, you underscored Church teaching that celibacy is the only option for gays and lesbians. This means that, to be accepted, gay and lesbian Catholics must ignore — or hide — who they are.

I also have an issue with the comment “Who am I to judge?”. Saying it is not for you to judge still implies there is judgement to be made. That there is still something wrong in being gay or lesbian. I saw a comment from Fr. James Martin, whom I greatly respect, that this was an example of your showing mercy. Mercy is still a loaded word. It conveys the impression that something needs to be forgiven, that someone has done something wrong.

Many saw hope in your words, of change and acceptance. I’m not so sure that’s what I see. I think, in reality, this might be a situation where people were so relieved you didn’t come out with the hate-filled language of your predecessors that they took this as a hopeful sign of a great leap forward. As I said, I am not so sure.

As for your comments about women, Pope Francis, I was deeply disappointed. While it was nice, I suppose, to acknowledge the role of women in the Church and say that they should fill more administrative roles, you closed the door firmly on women in the priesthood. This was pushed aside in the headline-grabbing attention paid to your comments on gay priests, but I know it must have been heard by many women as yet another dismissal. What I heard was that it’s OK for women to teach, care for the sick, minister to the abandoned, take on all the scut jobs in the Church, and maybe get the odd chance to make a few inconsequential decisions, but they can never hope to be equals to men in ministry or Church hierarchy. That makes me sad and, if I’m being honest, just a little bit angry.

As I said above, I’m writing this with some reluctance. I really wish I could get caught up in the euphoria over your remarks and see them as a sign of change. The problem for me is that even the most hopeful commentators have said this is a perhaps a sign of change that will come slowly over time. And, for women, there wasn’t even a glimmer of hope that things might change. That door slammed firmly shut.

I’m sorry, Pope Francis, but I’m tired of waiting. There is no slow or fast when it comes to equality and justice. We must have equality and justice now.

Anything else is simply wrong.  People are tired of crumbs when they have every right to sit at the whole feast.

My prayer is that you be guided by the Divine to take the same approach to inequality in the Church as you have to rooting out corruption, siding with the poor, and doing away with excess.

Your friend,


Jul 6, 2013 - Music, Resources, Vatican    No Comments

Day 18: An encyclical, canonizations and embezzling, oh my…

Dear Pope Francis,

I had another day off today. You, on the other hand, had quite the busy Friday.

First, you approved the canonizations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. I think the former is deserving. We may have to agree to disagree on the latter.

Then you and your predecessor released your first encyclical. Congratulations. I know from personal experience how great publishing something can be. I must confess I haven’t read it yet, but will download it to my Kindle as soon as I can.

And, of course those stories about corruption at the Vatican Bank continue. I’m really sorry about those. You inherited quite the mess it seems. I wouldn’t try to fix it all in one day. It took centuries — millennia, in fact — for things to get where they are. They are not going to resolve themselves overnight. But I applaud you for your efforts and am definitely in your corner.

Well, I hope you’re getting a good night’s sleep in your room in the the Domus.

Here’s a lovely Peter Mayer song to ease you into sleep. I’ve had this one on repeat lately.

Your friend,


Jul 4, 2013 - Vatican    No Comments

Day 16: Why Cardinal Dolan makes me sad…and hopeful

Dear Pope Francis,

So, I know I wrote about him just the other day, but Cardinal Dolan was back in the news again this week. This time it’s about allegations that he shielded church assets when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee in order to avoid paying them out as damages to sexual abuse victims. And, apparently, he had Vatican approval.

At the time, my first response was what the Germans would call schaadenfreude. After all, here was a man who, just days before, claimed to be standing up for the moral integrity of a nation. And then this came out.

That “gotcha” feeling faded, though, and it became one of sadness. After decades of revelations regarding how the Church treated abuse victims, shielded priests, and essentially tried to push the whole tragedy under the rug, it seems the hierarchy still hasn’t learned. What’s more, they’ve made issues of sexuality the target of moral outrage and, quite frankly, hate. They claim the high moral ground when many have acted immorally and against the interests of children, whom it should be their duty to protect at all costs. How many times do you have to hear the word hypocrisy before you listen?

This is what made me sad. The fact that evidence abounds that the way the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops have handled the issue of sexual abuse has only caused more hurt, more pain, and yet they continue on. I grieved yet again for all the victims.

And yet, there might be a sliver of hope. These revelations about Cardinal Dolan came from the release of many documents by the current Archbishop of Milwaukee. There was about to be a hearing on whether the diocese should be forced to release the documents, but Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki released them voluntarily. I guess a cynic could say he’d read the writing on the wall and decided it would be good PR to release the documents before a court made him.

Perhaps. But, the Church hierarchy of just a few years ago would have fought that court battle, I think. Another archbishop might have paid no heed to what was just and proper, wanting only to somehow shield the Church from further damage. In other words, handle the whole thing like the Church had been handling things since abuse allegations began to surface: cover, hide, deny, deny, deny.

So, the fact that this release happened at all, without a court order, is something of a minor miracle. And, I might even go as far to say it’s a hopeful sign. A small sign, to be sure, but a sign that there might be a new Vatican employee handbook that has taken effect.

After all, Pope Francis, releasing Church documents would probably require a certain someone’s consent, no? Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. If so, good for you. Keep it up.

Your friend,