While the GOP wanders the desert to consider who might deliver it once again to the Promised Land of the White House, it would be wise to consider some characteristics that have made Pope Francis so successful so early in his pontificate.
What are we to make of Pope Francis so far? Is he a cautious reformer? A fence straddler? A middle of the road compromiser trying to please everyone all around?
As Americans who find joy in our family heritages and faith traditions, we really have only one choice: Commonsense immigration reform that makes our entire nation stronger.
Her name is Philomena Lee and, as played by Judi Dench in what should be an Oscar-nominated performance, she's a deceptively ordinary older woman with a mission.
Emotion, for Anderson and Girgis, is an inadequate foundation for marriage, affection a weak and unsteady cornerstone. Only the singular unity of heterosexual coitus can ever truly create a marriage.
There is a wonderful Senegalese Proverb that sums up the challenge for the Catholic Hierarchy: "If an egg is broken by outside force, life ends. If broken by inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from the inside."
I hope that every religious tradition will teach tolerance and spiritual literacy of other traditions. That's a given. But I also think that there is more. Tolerance may be our supreme civic virtue, but it is not the most important virtue for using religion to its fullest.
To me it is astounding that Philomena Lee still has her strong religious belief even after everything that was done to her. She questions things and is very open in speaking about her experiences, but her faith is unshakeable -- as strong as it always was.
You might shake your head at this grim piece of history and then be comforted that those hate-driven persecutions were rooted in a primitive bygone era. But think again.
Greater attendance at Mass. The flowering of a Catholic charismatic movement with lay leadership and culturally sensitive worship that also shares the Pentecostal commitment to evangelism. And a revered global leader emerging from its ranks.
American CEOs and boards of directors should take note. The income inequality they've fostered with outsized CEO pay packages and paltry wages for workers is creating an American royal class served by serfs.
How should the Christian community as a whole proceed into the coming centuries, in light of where it's been? I would suggest, and I certainly dare to hope, that we are entering into an era of invigorated ecumenism.
This Pope seems to realize that while exclusion reduces vulnerability, it also reduces empathy and compassion. On the flip side of the communion wafer, the Pope sees that inclusion can lead to a kind of vulnerability that ultimately strengthens the flock.
Judith Valente is an award-winning journalist, poet, speaker and retreat leader. Atchison Blue is a book about sisters at Mt. St. Scholastica, in Atchison, Kansas, and the lessons Judith learned from witnessing their lives as they live out The Rule of St. Benedict.
As they say in Mexico, "death is just and even-handed for everyone since we will all die." For many, this unalterable truth provides a strong reason to celebrate life while there is still time.
I am a Catholic in waiting -- waiting for my church to remember the Gospels, to be a justice and peace-seeking community, to be fully inclusive of women and to be welcoming to people who are not heteronormative.