The 8th commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” is, at best, an ethical minimum. Can, should, this basic truth—don’t lie—be drawn out more broadly to include such ideas as protecting the dignity of a person, or the duty to represent truthfully what one has seen or what one has heard?
The answer, I would argue, is a resounding yes. The 10 Commandments, presented to us by Moses in the Hebrew Bible, set forth a minimum standard of behavior. Christ came and fulfilled the Old Covenant, and in turn elevated the moral standards first found in the 10 Commandments. In Matthew 5, or the “Sermon on the Mount,” Christ presents these new moral standards.
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” Matthew 5: 21-22
Christ takes what is a simple commandment—do not kill—and elevates it, elevates us—to a higher standard of behavior. Not only may we not kill our fellow brother—we must not be angry with him or harbor resentment toward him.
Similarly within the command “do not bear false witness against your neighbor” lies the elevated command to present the truth with accuracy, with conviction, and most importantly, with love.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2464) draws out this idea further (emphasis added):
“The 8th commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and who wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this case, they undermine the foundations of the covenant.”
So when, during a hearing to garner the truth about the terrorist attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to a question about the cause of the attack with, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” I thought about this call to witness to the truth. And frankly, I would argue that the truth makes all the difference.
Lately the truth has been difficult to glean from a majority of principal news outlets.
Take, for example, the Gosnell case, which was largely ignored until Kirsten Powers’ courageous article in USA Today. After a virtual outcry on Twitter, more news outlets began to pick up the story; Fox News has even aired a special on the case. The details of the case are horrific, disturbing, nauseating. But the truth is important. The truth is necessary.
There is a similar dearth of coverage regarding the House Committee’s hearing on Benghazi, which took place on Wednesday. Only one of my usual three radio programs mentioned the hearing during my drive to work on Thursday. Senator Marco Rubio was a guest on one news program, and acknowledging the general lack of news coverage, he thanked this particular program for allowing him to speak about the hearing. His comments regarding the hearing were insightful, especially when he thoughtfully noted, “This is not about politics. This is about accountability.”
I applaud Senator Rubio for speaking out. Cases like Gosnell and Benghazi matter. The content is difficult to discuss, because it brings to the forefront all of the worst parts of ourselves that we seek at all costs to cover up. We have created a culture of death, “men without chests” as C.S. Lewis wrote, yet we are shocked when we see evil in our world. Our response to evil is more shocking than the evil itself—cover it up! Don’t talk about it. It’s too disturbing. It’s too political.
So what happens when the usual news outlets, or the people charged with providing the truth, purposefully misrepresent the truth (what seems to be the case in the Benghazi terrorist attack) or simply ignore the story altogether (as was the case with the Gosnell trial)?
Then we must demand the truth. Kirsten Powers’ article shamed the mainstream media into covering, or at least mentioning, the Gosnell trial. The “Break the Gosnell Media Blackout” Twitter campaign was largely effective. We must use whatever tools we have as individuals, whatever platforms, whatever influence, and demand the truth. When these stories aren’t being covered, we should call into the major news outlets and ask why every word of the Jodi Arias case is discussed on the evening program, but not a word is mentioned about the House Committee hearing on Benghazi? And, equally as important, we should take time to thank the news outlets, journalists, and individuals who put their careers on the line to speak the truth. Let them know that we want the truth and that we are grateful when people take risks to bring it to us.
This is about accountability. We need to continue to hold each other lovingly accountable for our wrongs. If we can look evil in the face, if we can call it out of the darkness and name it, then we can move forward and try to ensure that atrocities like the Gosnell clinic and tragedies like the terrorist attacks in Benghazi don’t happen ever again. It is not enough to live out our morality individually. We must demand the truth.
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32
The FDA has made the Plan B emergency contraceptive pill available to all women ages 15 and over without a prescription or parental consent. Prior to this ruling, anyone under age 17 needed a prescription to obtain this drug. Proponents of the legislation argue that all women should have timely access to emergency contraception, regardless of age. Thankfully, the Department of Justice filed an appeal against the ruling late on Wednesday. Reactions to the appeal were mixed, but perhaps one of the most disappointing headlines I read this morning was, “Women’s groups decry appeal on morning-after pill.”
To be honest, I just spent hours working on an article to post here. I unpacked this issue from a scientific and medical perspective—is this pill an abortifacient? Is this pill safe for young girls? Armed with my facts and my arguments, I presented the article to my faithful editor (read: husband) and he lovingly told me that he thought I had missed the mark. Annoyed, I hung up the phone and sat down at the computer. I prayed. And I realized that he is right.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter what science says about this pill. What matters is that we are treating pregnancy like the common cold. We are saying to our young women that pregnancy, like cold symptoms, can be treated with a quick trip to CVS. Even worse, we are saying to our young women that we will not be there for them when they need guidance.
When I was in college, I was an intern at Catholic Charities Pregnancy Plus Medical in Tampa. I met with women daily, gave free pregnancy tests, and talked through next steps with the women once the results were in. I was 19 years old, single, no children. What did I possibly have to offer these women? I had no pregnancy advice, no relationship advice. I had no words about overcoming addiction or abuse. The only thing I could offer was compassion and a shoulder to cry on. My youngest client that summer was 15 years old, and all I remember is that she just needed someone to talk to, someone to reassure her that everything was going to be ok when her pregnancy test came back positive.
This ruling robs us of the ability to support the young women who find themselves in these difficult situations. If a young girl is sexually active and her birth control fails, she can go to CVS and pick up a pill and end her pregnancy. Did she abort an already conceived child? Perhaps. Is this pill safe? Will this affect her fertility in the future? We don’t know the answers to any of these questions. We can speculate, but we don’t know.
What we do know is that God calls us to reach out to one another in love. Our call, our purpose, is to love one another.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25: 31-40
A few weeks ago, I had the joy of escaping my chilly New England home to visit my parents in bright, warm Florida. I’ve lived away from home now for quite some time, and each time I go back to visit I love to wait for the moment when we turn a corner and my house comes into view. My favorite tree is right on the corner of the lot; my family planted it when we moved into this house many years ago. I love this house for everything that it represents and all of the memories that it holds.
But this past visit when we pulled up to the house I did not get to relish that moment that I love. I had just heard a few minutes earlier that there had been two explosions at the Boston Marathon. My body was there in Florida, but my heart was back in Boston, worried about my family and friends there.
Later that evening when I went out for a walk with my Mom, I noticed that my favorite tree had been completely cut down. At least, that’s what it looked like from my vantage point. I expressed my shock and sadness to my Mom, who just laughed and exclaimed, “Oh, that’s Knuckles!” She went on to explain that she was gardening over the weekend and decided that the tree needed to be pruned.
Pruned, yes, I argued. But not completely cut down. Every single one of the tree’s branches was gone. It looked like the Giving Tree at the end of Shel Silverstein’s iconic book. It was tragic. I couldn’t believe that she had nearly killed this tree.
And my mother—in her infinite wisdom—patiently explained that yes, the tree looked dead. But it needed to be pruned so that later it would grow even taller, even fuller. Sure, it was ugly. By all outward appearances, it was never coming back. But new life was just waiting to burst forth. Sure enough, right before I left home a few days later, Mom pointed out the brand new little branches that were springing forth.
These were the memories that were in my heart this morning as I heard today’s Gospel.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.”
I suppose, then, that perhaps I should look at challenges, suffering, and pain as a kind of spiritual “pruning.” Perhaps God is a Master Gardener, up there in the clouds with a giant pair of shears just waiting to cut away anything that hinders his plan for me, for you. It hurts. It’s ugly. By all appearances it doesn’t seem like anything is going to change, or improve. But then when we least expect it, life and beauty spring forth in great abundance.
I am deeply saddened by President Obama’s duplicitous remarks at a Planned Parenthood function earlier today. That I am disappointed that the President would so clearly align himself with one side of a polarizing issue is another matter entirely. Here, I’d simply like to express my disappointment at his choice of words. Today it seemed that the President chose his words carefully to disguise the nature of the truth.
“As long as we’ve got to fight to make sure women have access to quality, affordable health care, and as long as we’ve got to fight to protect a woman’s right to make her own choices about her own health, I want you to know that you’ve also got a president who’s going to be right there with you, fighting every step of the way. Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.”
That is a great sound bite. If I didn’t know any better and I had heard that clip on the radio, I’d be filled with pride. But what do his words really mean?
By “access to quality, affordable health care,” I imagine the President is referring to the Affordable Care Act. In the context of his speech to Planned Parenthood, he is most likely referring specifically to the HHS mandate, which requires all employers to provide contraceptive coverage to employees. Women’s access to contraception is so important that it has been written into the Affordable Health Care Act, with shallow exemptions in place for those who find contraception morally unacceptable. As a woman, I am offended by the assertion that offering me “access to quality, affordable health care” means providing me with contraception. Furthermore, why is men’s reproductive health care not included in the Affordable Care Act? Why will my employer pay for sterilization for women, but not for men? And why will the Affordable Care Act not cover other methods of family planning, such as Natural Family Planning?
By “we’ve got to fight to protect a woman’s right to make her own choices about her own health,” the President is most likely referring to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. The President really means that I should be able to choose to end the life of my child if I so desire. I should be able to make this decision up until a late stage in my pregnancy. I have the right, as a woman, as a mother, to feel my child’s heart beating inside of me and decide that I can end my child’s life. I should have access to an abortion clinic, and if my doctor “botches” my abortion and my child is born alive, my doctor should be allowed to kill my child on the table. To quote a Planned Parenthood official, it has become a “patient-doctor” issue, and to be clear: I am the patient, not my newborn child.
Yet, President Obama did not once use the word “abortion” in his remarks today. He continuously used the phrase, “right to choose.” Why, in addressing the nation’s largest abortion provider, did President Obama not use the word “abortion?”
I am not passing judgment on women or men who agree with these policies or those who find value in them. I am insisting that we use the appropriate language and truly call these policies what they are. When we rewrite the language, when we say things like “a woman has a right to choose,” we need to finish the sentence. What does the woman have the right to choose? If we can say, out loud, in public, on television, to Planned Parenthood officials, “A woman has the right to kill the child growing inside of her” then I think we would be making an enormous leap toward truth.
Yet we do not use these words, because these words are harsh, difficult, painful. Perhaps we are afraid to speak the truth. The truth is not pretty; no one wants to hear about the abortion as a life/death issue when we can easily reframe it to be a rights/choice issue. Between the lack of mainstream media coverage (or sporadic coverage at best) of the Kermit Gosnell trial and President Obama’s remarks today, the need for truthful language is clear.
The President and I can agree on one thing today— I too would invoke God’s blessing upon Planned Parenthood. I pray for them, and for all of us as a society, that we may start to call things what they truly are. There is power in truth.
Today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31): Jesus and “Doubting” Thomas
I’ve always thought it is wildly unfair that Thomas gets such a bad rap. I mean, the guy had a good point—he needed some evidence. What is wrong with asking for a sign? If I walked into a room and 11 of my friends told me that they had just seen Jesus, I’d think they were all crazy, and you can be certain I would want some sort of sign! But nonetheless, poor Thomas ends up being the poster child for doubt.
Tonight at Mass, the celebrant pointed out something I had never realized: just a few chapters before the doubt incident (Ch 11), Thomas had been the most faith-filled of all the disciples. As Jesus was preparing to head back to Judea, the disciples warned him not to go. They reminded him that last time he was in town, people tried to stone him. Thomas, however, was filled with faith in Jesus’ mission. Thomas said to the other disciples “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” That doesn’t sound very “doubtful” to me. In fact, that is one of the boldest statements of faith in the entire Gospel of John.
Why, then, is Thomas remembered as the one who doubted Jesus, and not as the faithful believer?
I think that we need a figure like Thomas. We need to be reminded that even someone who lived and walked with Jesus every day, and who saw him perform miracles all the time, can doubt. We need to know that even though we have followed Christ in the past, and made radical statements of faith, that we are human. We doubt. And we need signs, and we need serious help. We need to know that we’re doing the right thing, loving the right way.
And you know what? Thomas asked for a sign, and Jesus gave him one. Jesus appeared a week later, and he wasn’t even angry with Thomas for doubting. He knew the poor guy just wanted some proof. So he showed up, showed off his wounds, and said “Do not doubt but believe.”
We are human, after all. And we are deeply loved. And sometimes, even though we’ve seen some great things happen, we just don’t get it. Something is still missing. So we ask for a sign. And then we wait, and pray for the grace to recognize it when it shows up.
On April 18, 2005, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, delivered the homily at the Mass for the Election of the Supreme Pontiff. In his concise yet poignant homily, he warned against what he calls the “dictatorship of relativism.” The following is an excerpt from his homily:
“Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.
We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An ‘adult’ faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth.
We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith – only faith – that creates unity and is fulfilled in love.”
Each morning as I peruse my usual news outlets, I cannot help but think that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was right. As a society, as a world, even, we are indeed “building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” There is a loud clamor of voices urging relativism; to speak out against these voices garners one intense criticism–one is labeled a fundamentalist, bigot, or is dismissed as “not with the times.”
Yet where does moral relativism lead us? The dictatorship of relativism leads us to a Catholic university under threat of suit because of a student-run group distributing condoms on campus. Relativism leads us to a Planned Parenthood official arguing that if a child survives an abortion, the decision on whether or not to kill the child is a “patient-doctor issue,” not a legal one. Moral relativism leads a federal judge to allow the morning after pill to be sold over the counter to women of all ages. Is the right to life an objective truth? Is life itself relative?
C.S. Lewis, in his book The Abolition of Man, talks about the necessity of objective truth in the face of relativism. He argues that if we fail to pass along specific standards of right and wrong, rooted in objective truth, then we necessarily must accept responsibility for the moral bankruptcy that we ourselves have created. At the end of Chapter 1, entitled, “Men without Chests,” C.S. Lewis explains,
“And all the time—such is the tragicomedy of our situation—we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
Today, we lament the loss of life, yet we pass legislation that makes life “a patient-doctor” issue, or worse, an over-the counter issue. We try to teach our young people about the sanctity of life, but insist that they be allowed access to condoms and over-the-counter abortifacients for “protection.” How can we expect people to honor the dignity and sanctity of life–of every person, regardless of age– when we are willing to discard it when it is too inconvenient?
To borrow from C.S. Lewis, “such is the tragicomedy of our situation.”
There was a time in my life when I couldn’t relate to Good Friday. I just did not understand how it fit in with the rest of the events of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and is greeted by the people with much fanfare and celebration. He is welcomed as the man who had healed the blind, cured the sick, helped the lame to walk. Yet, mere days later, this same man is arrested on charges of blasphemy. He is accused of speaking words of hate, when truly his message is love. On Good Friday he is crucified, and though he is wrongly accused, he does not fight back. He completely empties himself and dies for all of our sins. He rises from the dead on Sunday, his glorious Resurrection conquers death. It all turns out beautifully in the end.
Yet for the first time in my life I think I am finally starting to understand Good Friday, or at the very least, I am beginning to see it in a new light.
This week I have been struggling each and every day with my fear of speaking out. I am a people pleaser. I love to be loved, I love to be liked. I don’t like confrontation, I don’t like to stir things up. I would rather that people just think that I am really nice while I silently disagree with everything they are saying. I can’t for the life of me figure out when I started to be this way, but I can tell you that I haven’t always felt like this. But somewhere along the way, fear took over, and I am deeply afraid of sharing my true beliefs with others, even close friends. But this Good Friday morning, as I meditate on my Lord and Savior dying on the cross for my sins and for the sins of the world, wrongly accused even though his message is love, I find courage and suddenly it is time to speak.
Today, my alma mater, Boston College, is under fire for disciplining students who are handing out condoms on campus. People are outraged—how could a university punish students for promoting “safety” and “sexual health?” In one article, an ACLU attorney, Sarah Wunsch, stated, “Boston College has the right to express its views and try to persuade students of the rightness of their opposition to contraception, but I don’t think they get to impose that view on what students in this case are doing.”
But Boston College is a Jesuit, CATHOLIC institution. The Church’s position on birth control is clear. The Church’s teachings on contraception are, in a word, beautiful. The Church teaches that sex is unitive and procreative, and the Church emphasizes that married couples are called to be co-creators with God. We are given this gift to co-create with the Master Creator, if that is God’s will for us. For this reason, the Church views contraception as immoral, because contraception is a conscious decision to leave the Creator out of the creating process.
To say that this message is unpopular is an understatement. But that doesn’t change what is objectively true, what is objectively right. I understand that many people disagree with the Church’s teachings on contraception, and I understand why. But a Catholic institution that is necessarily grounded in the beliefs of the Catholic Church can and must be true to that identity. I am proud that BC is standing up for her identity, even though it is an unpopular position. I would expect nothing less from a Catholic university.
John 18: 19-23
“The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing.Why ask me? Ask those who heard me what I said to them. They know what I said.”
When he had said this, one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
White smoke billowed out of the Sistine chapel chimney today and it is official…we have a pope! My classroom was filled with cheers as the white smoke first wafted onscreen, and then impatient chatter as we all waited for the official pronouncement on this momentous day. Such a profound historical moment.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, now Pope Francis, is the first Jesuit pope AND the first Latin American pope. As a graduate of a Jesuit university, I have to admit that I was beaming with pride when I heard that the new pope is a Jesuit. I was also intrigued by his name selection–did he choose Francis after St. Francis of Assisi (unusual for a Jesuit to pick a Franciscan name) or St. Francis Xavier (himself a Jesuit). I have yet to find the correct answer, though most news outlets seem to think that St. Francis of Assisi is his namesake. In any case, I think both saints have much to offer the new pontiff as he begins to steer the Church through these exciting times.
St. Francis of Assisi is perhaps most commonly known for being the patron saint of animals—who among us has not seen countless statues of St. Francis surrounded by animals, placed in gardens, churches, and front lawns? But St. Francis is also known for his remarkable love for the poor. St. Francis, born to a wealthy, noble family, forsook his wealth and lived a life of solidarity with the poor. Coincidentally (or not), one of the most frequent taglines on the news today is that Pope Francis is a simple, humble man—he lives in an apartment, cooks his own meals, and takes the bus to work each day. The example of St. Francis serves as a great reminder of Christ’s love for the poor, and that we as Church need to continue to care for the poor and to work for social change. St. Francis gave up all worldly possessions to focus on his mission—to preach the Gospel and to lead others to Christ. His humility and simplicity made him a compelling witness to the Catholic faith.
St. Francis Xavier was also born into a wealthy family. He was a professor of philosophy and was well on his way to a career in academia when he met St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Francis Xavier became one of the first Jesuit priests and served as a missionary in Japan and India. St. Ignatius of Loyola famously urged Francis as he set off on his mission, “Go forth and set the world aflame.” I find this to be an exciting parallel–the first Jesuit pope selects the name of one of the first Jesuit priests, and in so doing reminds the church of her evangelizing mission. Indeed, as a church we are called to evangelization, and in a world marred by sin and death, we so desperately need to evangelize. We are called to spread the good news, the message of God’s love for us.
I am filled with hope for the future of the Catholic Church, and our inspiring new leader, Pope Francis. May he guide the Church with wisdom and grace, that we may truly “set the world aflame.”
Black smoke! The results from the first vote of conclave are in, and no pope yet. The cardinals rarely elect a new pope on the first vote, so the results aren’t all that surprising. Of course, AP news decided to run the tagline, “Roman Catholic cardinals failed to agree on a new pope during the first day of the papal conclave.” Who knew that thoughtful discernment could be considered a failure?
I am so fascinated by the press these days. About a week before Pope Benedict’s resignation, I was writing articles about the perceived decline of Catholicism and morality in our world. Today, “Pope” is trending on twitter, “black smoke” is one of the most frequently searched words on Google, and photos of the Vatican are splashed on every newspaper and website. Every major news outlet featured a live stream of the chimney at the Sistine Chapel, cameras poised to capture the first wisps of smoke wafting from the chapel.
Perhaps my favorite part of this whole experience is the “papal predictions.” We—as human people— just love to control everything. For this reason we have lists of the “20 cardinals most likely to be Pope,” and we have commentators pre-recording footage about several papal contenders just in case one of them is elected pontiff. Here in Boston, Fox News 25 (which just over a week ago featured one of its morning personalities cracking distasteful jokes about Cardinal Law) is now recruiting Boston Catholics to talk about their personal experiences with Cardinal Seán O’Malley, who is seen by the media as one of the potential frontrunners in the papal race.
I love the intrigue and speculation that surrounds conclave. But I hope and pray that we remember that the Holy Spirit has always guided the Church and will continue to, especially in this exciting time. As Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera from Mexico reminds us, “It’s not journalists that vote in the conclave. It’s cardinals.” A part of me hopes that the new pope will be someone that no one expected—though admittedly, I have my favorite papabili—I think it would be a neat reminder that we don’t have it all figured out. Only time (and the color of the smoke!) will tell.
On my way home from work this evening I was listening to Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s radio program on Catholic Sirius XM radio, “Conversations with Cardinal Dolan,” and he shared something so profound that I couldn’t wait to get home to write about it!
Cardinal Dolan talked about how during papal elections, we see a frenzy of articles suggesting that great change will come with a new pontiff—perhaps the new pope will allow women to be priests, alter teachings on contraception, allow abortion in some instances, etc. These articles suggest that many people don’t understand the way that the Church functions (He shared that one reporter asked him, “Do you think the new pope will change any doctrine?” to which he responded “To use doctrine and change in the same sentence is practically an oxymoron!”).
The Pope’s job is to safeguard the deposit of faith, to preserve Church teachings for future generations. In fact, in today’s first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses urges the Israelites to do the same thing.
“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,
but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”
Passing on the faith is no small task, especially in a world that is rapidly changing. The message of the Church is, at times, wildly unpopular because it presents a challenge and quite a radical message. Church teaching doesn’t always meet us where we are, or where we want to be, but rather it calls us to be more like God.
Cardinal Dolan continued, “Yes, the next Pope will call for change…change in our hearts, change in our souls.” We are the ones that need to change, explained Cardinal Dolan, not the doctrine. The Church doesn’t need to change her teaching on abortion or contraception—we need to be a people who are open to life, in all stages, and with all of its challenges. My prayer today is that we may all join in prayer not only for the cardinals as they gather in conclave, but also for the conversion of hearts—that God may open our minds and our hearts to more humbly accept God’s plan for us.