The question of “who owns the Church” has had a stormy history in Catholic America, although the terms of reference have changed considerably over time.
WE ARE LIVING through a dangerous moment in our national life, of an intensity and potential for destruction unseen since 1968. Then, a teenager, I watched U.S. Army tanks patrol the streets of Baltimore, Md., around the African-American parish where I worked. Now, a Medicare card carrier, I’m just as concerned about the fragility of the Republic and the rule of law.
FOR LENT 2016, I adopted a new Forty Days discipline in addition to intensified prayer, daily almsgiving and letting my liver have its annual vacation: I quit sports talk radio, cold turkey.
THE BEST LENT OF my life involved getting up every day at 5:30 a.m., hiking for miles through ankle-twisting, cobblestoned city streets, dodging drivers for whom traffic laws were traffic suggestions, avoiding the chaos of transit strikes and other civic disturbances, and battling bureaucracies civil and ecclesiastical – all while 3,500 miles from home sweet home.
I think liberal democracy is in grave danger… And yet I think there are things that can and must be said for the “liberal world order” and for liberal democracy.
IN APRIL 2016, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, England, issued a pastoral letter on the interpretation of “Amoris Laetitia” (the pope’s apostolic exhortation on marriage) and re-affirmed the Church’s long-settled teaching: The divorced and civilly remarried, while members of the Christian community, are not living in full communion with that community, and should not present themselves for Holy Communion until their manner of life changes or their irregular marriage has been regularized under Church law.
ON JAN. 13 THE General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops published a “preparatory document” for the 2018 Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment.
ON JAN. 20, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to publish decrees acknowledging the “heroic virtues” of six men and one woman: two diocesan priests, three priests in religious orders, the foundress of an Italian religious community and a Polish layman.
DURING THE HEYDAY of the Solidarity movement, a famous Polish slogan had it that, “For Poland to be Poland, 2 + 2 Must Always = 4.” It was a quirky but pointed way of challenging the communist culture of the lie, which befogged public life and warped relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives, colleagues and neighbors.
SPEAKING OF PUBLIC policy debates, Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that, while everyone had a right to his opinion, no one had a right to his own facts. Something similar might be said about today’s debates in the Church: everyone has a right to their own opinion about the state of Catholicism in 2017, but no one has a right to invent their own Church history.