As a Catholic nun for seven years I saw the power of the Catholic Church in making and breaking rules, baptizing and excommunicating members, and throwing a heap of guilt on those poor souls that miss their mark of perfection.
The Catholic Church is the kind of institution that changes and reforms in geologic time, and seldom in the time frame of a single generation. And while it evolves -- and I believe that's what it is doing -- it does something amazing.
Until the history of institutional misogyny is addressed, moves of openness toward gay people cannot amount to very much: no institution solves a tangential psycho-sexual malady as it "shuts the door" on its root sexual prejudice.
The primary message, regardless of phrasing, seems to be that although all genders are equal in the eyes of God, cisgender men are simply more equal than the rest.
If we do choose to praise Pope Francis, we shouldn't see this as a divergence from his previous comments, because much of Pope Francis' teachings preach inclusion for those on the margins, whether the poor, or uneducated, and now the sexually marginalized.
My prayer for the church is that we might take this opportunity to stop causing harm, to stop being judgmental and to become more welcoming; more inviting; more loving towards all people, especially those who are marginalized and ostracized.
Regardless of record-breaking attendance, that the first Latin American pope made his maiden international trip to Brazil, home to the largest, but rapidly declining Catholic population on earth, is in itself of monumental significance.
In his visit to the favela, speaking to the poor, the pope also used some words dear to me--"social justice," "solidarity," "inequalities"--that I believe are at the heart of what we need to be thinking about as Christians in the modern world.
During Jesus' earthly ministry, what troubled him most about what he saw? To listen to the religious right, you'd think it was loose sexual mores. But would this really be Jesus' emphasis?
It is inconceivable to me that we as a church are unwilling to connect the dots between the church's teaching on homosexuality and the way it's being implemented by members of the hierarchy and the harm it is causing to our LGBT youth.
It's been four years since The Cove -- and 20 years since Free Willy. And yet, as the upsetting new documentary, Blackfish, shows, man's inhumanity to mammals continues unabated -- as commercialized and heartless as ever, even when it includes collateral damage.
Classical artworks washed out all traces of Judaism in the personae of Jesus, his family, and followers -- despite the fact that they were all dedicated practicing Jews throughout their lives.
The increase in rates on federal student loans will not only impact students -- members of the Catholic Church fear this will also affect faith. Graduates with large amounts of debt will now be less likely to pursue priesthood and will contribute to a significant shortage of priests in the U.S.
It is difficult to stereotype. Individual congregations, not denominations, ultimately decide how they will respond to gay and lesbian worshippers.
Francis must take a different approach than his predecessor, and must meet openly and publicly with the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Francis must not allow the whims and demands China, notorious for its abuses of religious freedom, dictate the statements and choices of the papal office.
Huelskamp is going to continue to try and block same-sex marriages by amending the U.S. Constitution and introducing the Federal Marriage Amendment. Here's the most laughable part: Congressman Huelskamp's home state of Kansas isn't even backing him.