Who Is Worthy?

Pope Francis’ message is LOVE above all else. He strives to strike a conciliatory tone while some conservative bishops and cardinals appear to be focused only on the LAW. Sadly many American bishops display some of the harshest criticism of our Holy Father. Instead of reaching out to those in need of Christ’s love, they prefer to remind us of our sinfulness; our unworthiness. Instead of finding ways to evangelize and share God’s love, they prefer exclusion and divisiveness. It’s sad that in a world aching for reconciliation and peace these bishops have chosen a very narrow view of Christ’s Gospel.

Recently Archbishop John Myers from New Jersey has given a directive to his parish priests concerning those ineligible to receive communion. He seems to be primarily concerned with those “guilty” of sexual sins. So once again another bishop has decided to “police” the Eucharist. So who is worthy to receive Christ? The publicly pious person who refuses to support legislation that will serve the poor? The folks who attend weekly mass but find no time to serve those less fortunate in their communities? What about the priest who makes it abundantly clear that he has no time for pastoral care but reminds us weekly that we are sinful?

And who are the unworthy? Only those guilty of sexual sins? Ironic that a clergy still plagued by the sexual abuse of the most innocent among us is seemingly obsessed with contraception, homosexuality and infidelity. I am dismayed that many Catholics flock to protest at abortion clinics yet remain virtually silent about the abuse of minors by priests. When was the last time members of a parish stood outside a bishop’s residence protesting the grave sins of pedophile priests at the urging of their parish priest?

Some progressive Catholics have suggested that we boycott communion. Some have suggested that we band together wearing our rainbow attire in support of our gay brothers and sisters and sons and daughters. Others have just decided to walk away. None of these options will bring reconciliation to our church.

imageHaving lived in Europe for a year, I’ve seen the empty churches; the cathedrals and abbeys that are little more than museums today. How sad that some American bishops seem to be working feverishly to empty our churches as well.

Come Holy Spirit, renew the face of the Earth! And when you’re done with me, maybe you could work on a few priests and bishops.



Francis Gives Me Hope

Pope Francis certainly has the attention of the press. And much of the faithful. And me.

He has shown himself to be a humble man willing to embrace the poorest amongst us. He has bucked the traditionalists who wanted more theological dogma. He has exasperated the Church hierarchy while they are busy telling us what he meant to say. Francis keeps shaking things up. Today’s interview in America Magazine only serves to further frustrate his critics.

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

Read the whole article here – http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview

For several years now I have felt cold, distant and isolated in my Church. Far too long I have felt marginally Catholic (or not Catholic at all). The cultural battle within our Church has divided communities, parishes and families. Instead of joining together in prayer and worship we are often focusing our time and talent on divisive issues. Who is worthy? Who is authentic? Who really belongs at this table?

But where is the charity? Where is the compassion? Where is Jesus in all of this?

When I listen to Pope Francis words, “Without hope, we can walk, but we’ll become cold, indifferent, self-absorbed,  distant and isolated” my hope is once again restored.

And with HOPE my faith is being restored.

Pope FrancisMore powerful than Francis’ words; his love for all of God’s creation and his humility should be an example for us. Ultra-conservative Catholics are in an uproar because he hasn’t devoted enough attention to church teaching on abortion, contraception and homosexuality. Instead he has made poverty and social justice a priority. He is embracing all of us not just a select few who seem obsessed with dogmatic allegiance.

“This Church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people.”

I want to belong to that Church; the one that “throws the doors open” and welcomes us all. A ‘big tent’ Church that has room for saints and sinners. I want a Church where my daughter and granddaughters will be given the same dignity and opportunity as men.

Francis gives me hope…