Archives for the month of: April, 2013

I read a really promising article in the Washington Post here.

In it, Clelia Luro, a friend of the pope when he was Bergoglio, speaks to her hopes that there will be a debate about making celibacy optional for Catholic priests.

Now, a lot of people are hopeful about that subject, and with good reason. This pope has already shown himself to be more open to discussion across the board than his two predecessors. John Paul II and Benedict both forbade anyone to even discuss this issue.

But Mrs. Luro is singularly important in this regard. In the 60s, she married an Argentinian bishop in what was a major scandal. In 2000, when here husband was dying (and they were estranged from the church) Bergoglio personally ministered to them, and spoke to Mrs. Luro every Sunday since. She might have the best perspective for being hopeful about this.

But here is a quote from Bergoglio:

In his book “On Heaven and Earth,” published last year, Bergoglio said: “For the moment I’m in favor of maintaining celibacy, with its pros and cons, because there have been 10 centuries of good experiences rather than failures.” But he also noted that “it’s a question of discipline, not of faith. It could change,” and said the Eastern Rite Catholic church, which makes celibacy optional, has good priests as well.

You’ll note I said that it was a quote from Bergoglio, not Francis. We shall see if he weighs in. I, for one, am sanguine that he will at least allow discussion, unlike the last two popes.

Of course, I’d rather start talking about women serving as priests, but I’ll be happy with advances wherever they come.



This one has been accepted for the annual juried art show at the Delaplaine in Frederick. If you are in Frederick in May, stop by and take a look in person.

StitchinGirlMary's Blog

Maho3detOkay, maybe I am a little obsessed, but Edgar Allan Poe is big in Maryland.  Poe was born in Massachusetts, but  he lived, married and died in Baltimore. Boston, Philly and New York also claim Poe as a native son; but Baltimore remains the only city to name a major league team after him (Go Ravens!)

As I have written before, I love dark tales.  I have loved Poe’s macabre stories ever since Mr. Geisler read “The Tell Tale Heart” out-loud to us in the 6th grade.  I also have memories of my Dad re-telling the story of the Masque of the Red Death – boy, that gave me nightmares!

So here’s my newest Poe, one that I hope to enter into the Juried event at the Delaplaine this Spring.  Wish me luck!


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Today, Pope Francis (Bergoglio!) named a panel to consult with him to reform the Curia, the bureaucracy that runs the Vatican City and ostensibly, the church worldwide.


The last time the Curia was reformed was by John Paul II in the 80s, but that it was a half effort, largely ignored because of other priorities. This time, Francis is forming a panel made up of Cardinals from every inhabited continent, and one from the Vatican. Francis’ choices reflect the universal nature of the church, and that the majority of its members are now from the Southern hemisphere.

And these are not just hierarchical stooges. Some of these names were on my shortlist of Papabile (prospective Popes) that would’ve made me happy if they were elected.

The ones I know:

  • Cardinal Marx, who has been at the forefront of cleaning up sex scandals in Germany
  • Cardinal O’Malley, a Franciscan Capuchin who has been tireless in cleaning up the scandals in his Archdiocese. Lobbied strongly for reform in the pre-c0nclave meetings. A humble wonder.
  • Cardinal Pell – Australia, very public leader of the reform movement.
  • Cardinal Maradiaga – Honduras. Head of the group. Here’s ABC’s quote about him: He is considered one of the few moderates left in the College of Cardinals and is known for his often blunt talk and off-record criticism of the curia.

I don’t know the rest, but by all accounts, the group is reform minded.

Some of these men have publicly floated the following ideas:

  • Bringing in laity (non-clergy) to help run the Curia.
  • Term limits on Vatican jobs to prevent lifelong bureaucrats.
  • Regular financial reports/audits to un-murk the Vatican’s finances
  • Regular meetings of department heads. Apparently, they don’t meet much now. wow.

This stuff might feel like no-brainer business management 101 stuff to outsiders, but it is difficult to remember just how calcified the church is. Calcified and insular. They really don’t know any better.

I am most excited about the potential to have laity take over Curia positions; imagine the potential expertise JUST in retired Catholics. People who have a lifetime of experience, and would leap at the chance to help the church. Also, with a light heart I contemplate women working in positions of power in the Vatican.

The best comparison I can make is of a local parish. The clergy are there to minister to the flock, with non-clergy picking up the other duties. Maybe a better, slightly ridiculous comparison would be to the Marines. Every Marine is a rifleman and we use sailors for the support stuff.

I can’t seem to communicate the significance of this fully. A move like that could crack the patriarchal stranglehold on power in the church. It would also make the church more efficient and better run, more capable of serving the people around the world, but that one little thing brings me joy.

So no, to my more progressive friends, this isn’t going to bring women priests, married priests, or any number of other radical (to an outsider) changes. But it has the potential to start a process that, in addition to refocusing the church on the mission of helping the poor and restoring humility to the Vatican, will bring the Church into the 20th century.

Every day I thank God for Francis and the work he is doing. A truly amazing man. Like how Socrates proved he was the greatest mind in Greece by insisting on his own ignorance, Francis is showing his greatness by insisting on his own personal humility.

Marriage equality is in the news, and many people are objecting to it on religious grounds. I appreciate that; it’s a big change and I understand that it can run counter to the Christian world view.

Why would I talk about this then? I don’t think its constructive to get in someone’s face about contentious issues; you are essentially just telling someone they are wrong, they should agree with you, and that debate is not welcome. I see this on both sides of the marriage equality issue, and I certainly see a compelling logical argument for just one side of the issue.

But I think it’s important to raise an issue here; while I understand wanting to impose Christian values on this issue, I would like to make the in for a penny, in for a pound argument. Here’s a picture I want to contemplate:


If I were to make laws based on the message of Christ, letting this ^ happen would be against them.

It is MUCH easier to make the “thou shall not” argument than it is to make the “I need to” argument. I could cite several verses and say “Why are we not making this law?”

For one, I recall Matthew 19:21

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

But if I were to make that point in a snarky way, and ask you have YOU given away all you own, I would be destroying my own point.

My point. It is love.

We cannot codify that message; to me the primary message of my faith. The admonitions of the Bible are important, and I try to live by them personally, but more importantly I try to show the world I am Christian by the love I show others. Neither one of these things has anything to do with my appreciation of the Constitution and secular governance. They are separate.

So the argument is this, if you truly have an objection to marriage equality based on Christian values, what else are you prepared to codify? What, to you, is the most important message of Christ? I’m talking fundamentals, here.

Instead of codifying that which the Bible tells us not to do, we should work on doing that which it ask us to do. I know I cannot attain the perfection Christ mentions; I do not have it in me, but it is MY challenge, and one for me to hold myself to, not the government.