Wednesday, April 3

Oh. I didn't tell you about my talk. It went very well. (Topic: Helping Kids Answer Fundamentalists' Questions about
Being Catholic)
The room was actually full. I only had one troublemaker, so to speak - a woman who just refused to cede the point that Catholic teaching is not based solely on Scripture. She was either a fundamentalist plant or a really stupid Catholic. I didn't mind. Plus I had one very nice, soft-spoken Irish nun who helped clarify my point. The woman walked out anyway.

Speaking of nuns with accents. While I was signing books, a Polish-named and accented nun came up to me, sitting there with Joseph on my lap, and just showered him with affection. She blessed him. Talked to him. Hugged him. He laid his little head on her shoulder several times. It was very sweet.

Saw a lot of the exhibitors. I was mainly looking for high school religion textbooks, seeing what the situation was there in the years since I've left the classroom. Most publishers, it seems, haven't changed their textbooks much. One has, producing a Sacraments textbook with a Rather Prominent Sacramental Theologian's name listed as author. I thumbed through it and was appalled. When you're wondering what someone is about theologically, see what they have to say about the Real Presence. This guy said that the belief in the Real Presence became a part of Catholic teaching when early Christians experienced the divine in their sharing of bread and wine in their re-enactments of the Last Supper. Nothin' about Jesus' words. Or Paul's.

I also glanced at the same publisher's morality textbook, to see what was said about abortion. The discussion on abortion starts off, right off the top, with several paragraphs about how different people have different opinions on the question of when life begins, and because of this, will have different views on the morality of abortion.

How's that for confident Catholic teaching?

Here's the breakdown of the nature of the exhibitors at the NCEA: 20% textbooks. 10% school furniture and PE equipment. 30% expensive new technology. 40% fundraising companies so the schools will be able to buy (the probably unnecessary) technology.

What I'm hearing in my mail:

Lots of misunderstanding. People think I'm linking pedophilia to celibacy. No. I'm linking the cover-up of pedophilia and sex-predators to a closed clergy culture, in which celibacy plays a role.

I'm hearing objections to my supposedly equating priesthood with a "profession" when it's really a calling. You people are correct. BUT - although priesthood is a calling, normal human dynamics are not suspended when members of this called group live and work together. That's all I was saying. And I was wondering if celibacy exacerbates those dynamics. The workings of the church are not exempt from human politics, and so on. We get into a lot of trouble when we think that our status as a Christian makes us somehow more than human. That really wasn't the point.

I had someone tell me I should join the Episcopal Church. Don't know if they were saying that from an Episcopal (welcome!) or Catholic (get out!) perspective.

And then I had someone tell me they were praying for me.

Thanks! I need all the prayers I can get!

My take on today: Lots more mail generated by my appearance on than by Rod Dreher's link to me on The Corner, but not nearly as many hits.

So what are we to make of that? Foxnews readers are fewer, yet mouthier? Sort of like Bill O'Reilly?

I feel moved to reiterate, one more time, a view that's clear to anyone who's been reading this blog for a long time, but may not be to first time visitors.

Celibacy is a postive thing. It is not inherently unhealthy or any other such nonsense moderns would choose to say about it. It's recommended by Jesus, recommended by St. Paul. It's a good thing. Celibacy is a part of most major world religions - it goes along with asceticism and a general monastic commitment. It's good.

But the question is - should it be mandatory for some Catholic priests? Oh - what - some Catholic priests? That's right. Not all Roman Catholic priests are required to be celibate. There are a few hundred Protestant and Anglican ministers who have converted to Roman Catholicism, reordained and remain married. They're married Catholic priests. Same with Easter Rite priests - part of Roman Catholicism, loyal to Holy Father. Married. So the question is - should celibacy be optional for all Roman Catholic diocesan priests, or just for many, as is the case now?

I also do not, by any means, buy into the foolish, mindless idea that pedophilia in and of itself is caused by celibacy. Please don't read what I say to mean that. I am, however, not unfamiliar with the workings of the Catholic Church at diocesan and parish levels, and I am convinced that mandatory celibacy does create a culture that has evolved into something rather closed and self-protective. It didn't have to - but it did, at least here.

Finally, I do not want to spend a lot of time talking about this. I have my views, but so what? Who the heck am I? It's interesting and stimulating to discuss, but my main job here right now is to follow Christ. To imbue the Gospel and let Christ live in me every second of every day as I live in my family, my community and my world. My job is to meet others as Christ would meet them, to respond to the poor and the outcast as Christ wants me to, and to in general, deepen my relationship with Christ.

Also know that the choice of Blog Moments on Fox was their decision, not mine. They picked 'em, they edited them, and I just found out about it the Tuesday afternoon before they were going to run on Wednesday. So yes, they are my words, but they don't represent all of what I think - they were selected to provoke comment. Which I guess they did!

Well that's frustrating.

I was proceeding at a pretty fast clip here, answering my volumes of email from today, but then Yahoo mail has suddenly decided to go to sleep. Sorry, folks!

Another new Catholic blog. They're springing up like tulips!
Lots o mail. I'm trying to answer it. I'll blog some of it, too.

Re: Pope Anna Quidlen:Just thought you'd like to know that many of us Catholics here in New York-especially those of us on Parish councils, that lead youth groups and teach religious ed, very much agree with her..
Am I sad?-you bet, but some day through the prayer of the good men and women of the church, the curia and the politicos will see the light of opening up the clergy to all people-men, women, married or celibate. I can't wait-for I've been called and I can't wait to serve God's people in the way She's called me.

Kinda scary.

Congratulations to my husband Michael for being mentioned and linked by Andrew Sullivan yesterday. Oh, my husband is so cool.

Welcome to visitors who’ve arrived via FoxNews. I’m honored and amazed to be the Blogger ‘o’ the Day. Just be aware that at this moment, I’m out of town, blogging from afar and on the run. I usually post a lot more than this on a typical day, and link to many more articles of Catholic, cultural and political interest. So come back on a normal day. Also check out my regular website, which has loads of articles and reviews from past and present.

By the time you read this, I’ll probably be deep into my talk about helping teens to answer fundamentalists’ questions about being Catholic. Although I’m sure that the list of questions I’ll be dealing with – concerning salvation, the Bible, Mary and Purgatory – is probably superceded these days by questions about…you know what.

And if I’m not into the talk, I’m probably sitting at my publisher’s booth, looking lamely at people walking by. Book signings are the worst, unless you’re famous. There is not much more damaging to the self-esteem than to sit there, greet someone, watch that person pick up your book, read the back, leaf through it, set it down, either smile wanly at you or avert their gaze, and walk away. Yup. If you’re afflicted with a bit too much pride, that’ll fix ya.


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