Archives for category: Religious Freedom

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.



First, here is a copy of a letter I just wrote to editor of the Washington Post:


I recently read a report by an Arlington Wiccan priestess who was denied clergy status by the clerk of the court for the 17th Judicial District (primarily the city of Falls Church, VA).

I am a Roman Catholic, and do not share Ms. Literata Hurley’s faith, however I find the incident disturbing.

Ms. Hurley was denied Clergy status by Paul Ferguson, Clerk of the Court, primarily because her congregation does not have a physical church. They meet at member’s houses and outside. I suspect he may have had other motives (he indicated there were other, unnamed reasons), but that is the only concrete reason he provided.

I immediately thought of Saint Francis, whose order owns nothing worldly. Even the churches and monasteries they use today are not theirs, and I thought, “This man would have denied Saint Francis clergy status.”

I sheepishly admit that it took me a bit to remember that Saint Francis struggled every day to emulate someone else, and in my opinion serves as a the greatest example of walking in Christ’s path.

It is with tears in my eyes that I write to you and point out that in Virginia, perhaps the birthplace of true religious freedom (thank you Mr. Jefferson) a government official denied clergy status to a woman for supplying the same answers to his questions that Jesus might have.

I encourage Mr. Ferguson to reconsider his decision, and I encourage the Post to ask him if he will.

Semper Fi,

 Terry Mahoney


Here is a link to Ms. Hurley’s account of the situation

There are three reasons I can think of for you, dear reader, to be unmoved by Ms. Hurley’s problem.

1) Apathy towards religion in general – I use apathy here, but I might include antipathy. I get it. I have faith, but my path was circuitous to get here, and while I won’t try to convert you, I would point out that this is an issue of basic rights. This one government offiicial is making an arbitrary decision that will impact many people’s lives. I can’t know his thoughts or feelings, but I am disturbed by theprima facieevidence indicating a judgment dismissing the validity of her religion. What if said arbitrary decision impacted you, in the form of a building permit, or some other secular issue?

2) Not particularly inclined to respect Wicca – I do not believe in Wicca. I struggle with the mutually exclusive nature of religions, and have a more nuanced position than my church, but I don’t spend time trying to work Wicca into my life. If there was no Wicca, it wouldn’t negatively impact me that I can tell. But that is beside the point; we are a secular society and we have a law that respects all faiths. Thomas Jefferson probably didn’t have Wicca in mind when he wrote Virginia’s statute on religious freedom, but that is immaterial. Religious freedom is a fundamental right enshrined in our society. I know the 1st Amendment’s wording refers only to Congress making laws impacting religion, but our courts have wisely chosen to infer the implied protection down to all levels of government, and all kinds of religions.

3) You are a wise-ass who likes to respond to passion with sarcasm – Guilty as charged. I welcome your snark. But consider simultaneously emailing the editor of the Post at Letters@WashPost.Com . They are the most influential regional paper and can make a difference. So snark away, but send this:

Dear Editor,

I read about Literata Hurley’s rejection of Clergy Status by the Clerk of the Court in Arlington County. I think it is disturbing and hypocritical that she would be rejected on essentially the same grounds that Jesus would be, particularly in Virginia, the birthplace of religious freedom.

Very Truly Yours,

Snarky McSnark

Amen, Tom