Current events in the Church

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As is often the case, Catholicism is in the headlines: the HHS mandate and the First Amendment; the Vatican's investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious; the collection of signatures in opposition to gay marriage in the Archdiocese of Seattle; the Vatican's silencing of Fr. Tony Flannery in Ireland; and Bishop Daniel Jenky's strong words about President Obama in a homily given in Peoria.
Some readers have asked why I haven't commented on these topics -- and if I plan to.

Like many of you, I follow the news and blog posts on these issues every day.  My reading leads me to observe that: 
     - the initial reporting on such topics in the media is often hasty, ill-informed and inaccurate
     - the initial response from those involved in such stories is often ideologically postured and biased
     - it takes a long time for the truth about such matters to begin to emerge: clarity and understanding are the children of information and reflection - and their gestation may be lengthy
     - even as the truth gradually emerges, many writers and commenters continue to respond only to the initial hasty, inaccurate and biased reporting (see the cartoon above)
     - apart from disseminating information readily available in many other places, even the most earnest bloggers are seldom positioned to make a serious contribution to the discussion
     - a combox on a blog is often like a sand box in the backyard: a place where children play and kick up lots of dust while shouting and calling each other names
Those who have serious interest in the current events like those listed above will make it their business to read and study as much material as is available - and there's lots of it out there.  (Check the sidebar for some helpful links.)  Such study often reveals that each of the "sides" in a particular debate is much less objective and accurate than it claims to be: a certain, necessary transparent honesty is often found lacking.  And, not surprisingly, if one or more sides in the debate fails to respect the views each brings to the table or is altogether closed to the paths of reconciliation or consensus - an unfortunate outcome is fairly easy to predict.

My own experience as a blogger has taught me that posting on debated issues and inviting conversation about them leads some readers to unintended conclusions and others to start a ruckus in the sandbox.  My growing focus in writing this page is on scripture, spirituality and prayer. In general, then, I'll be leaving to others the task of reporting and updating the news and soliciting opinions thereon.  And I gladly cede to other bloggers the task of moderating the sandbox.


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  1. Your blog has always been a lovely, durable and reliable source of inspiration. Your focus on scripture, spirituality, and prayer is an island of sanity in an ocean of crazy.

    Over the years I've dipped in and out of engaging in whatever debate is raging -- usually in devolving concentric circles. Over the past year or so, I've pretty much limited myself to posting a QOTD from which anyone is free to infer anything. I do not post anonymous comments.

    All this is to say/write that given the current climate of "discourse," I'm rethinking what I want to do with/on my personal blog. Might end up writing about my cat and the weirdness of becoming a clergy spouse.

    Bless you for your ministry, Austin.

  2. This is part of the reason why I love your blog so much! I love how it focuses on prayer, spirituality and scripture I truly look forward to receiving the email each morning with all of your latest posts and your blog has really been helping me prepare my mind and heart for Mass. I feel like your blog gives me a little bit of pastoral care each and every single day and often its exactly what I need to turn towards God on any given day! I feel like you're my second pastor even though you live in a different country and I've never met you, your blog is yet another reason why I am so thankful for the amazing priests around the world who have dedicated their lives to the Church.

    I think that you are right when you say that initial reporting is often hasty and ill informed. Since I've been seriously discerning religious life for the last year and a bit I've been following the LCWR debate with some interest and it seems like the vast majority of the writers haven't even read the actual document "Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious" since they are describing it as a scathing document... I don't think it is at all scathing but rather written in a very pastoral manner and I think some of the concerns are actually legitimate since in my discernment journey I've visited a few communities that do things that the LCWR is accused of supporting... those are the kinds of communities that I just don't visit again or maintain contact with and there are so many wonderful women religious out there who truly do embrace their role in the Church.

  3. I do like coming to this blog because it's a breath of fresh air compared to some others where discussion can get pretty nasty at times.

    Regarding the LCWR, I believe the sisters are perfectly capable of determining their own policies and procedures.


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