Pope Francis has made more headlines in his first six months than many popes make in six years, perhaps because of the questions he's finally asking--and the opportunity they may be providing for a working sound-system.
I can be as born again as the former tax collectors and prostitutes of the New Testament, as devout as Mother Theresa, as divinely gifted as a saint, but because I was divorced at the age of 24, I can never be part of an Orthodox religion.
The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, has been a ray of sunshine since his elevation in March. His charm, humility and generosity, and his respect even for gays and atheists, have made him far more appealing than the authoritarian medievalist he replaced.
Pope Francis, I am confident you understand the hopes you are raising. As you dip your toe in the river of spiritual healing and change, I pray that you will not lose courage, or just be swept away, but you will stand for justice.
My discontent with my current church experience is not based on a single homily or even a series of homilies or homilies in general; it's based on the whole package.
What's critical to realize -- lest we believe that Christian doctrine actually compels its adherents to condemn gay people -- is that anti-gay religious sentiment has always been a matter of tone and focus, so a change here is both the best we're likely to get and possibly all that's really needed.
Pope Francis' Catholic Church isn't abandoning its anti-LGBT beliefs; it's just going to talk about them less often. The pontiff's comments were a response to the shifting politics around LGBT issues, not a new policy of inclusion. They are, at most, a change of style, not one of substance.
The pope just told the American Catholic religious right to shove off. He said that the political game they've been playing on behalf of people like the Koch brothers and Tea Party -- in the name of morality -- threatens, the moral structure of the Church.
In saying "I have never been a right-winger" in the same interview in which he's criticizing the church for being too "obsessed" with gay marriage and abortion, Francis is hitting at those Catholic leaders who use gay rights and abortion to wield political power, putting them on notice.
Since the founding of the Roman Catholic Church in the early days of Christendom, the altar has always been in the center of the chancel area, with the pulpit on one side of the of the chancel and the lectern (from where announcements and scripture are read) on the other side.
While researching media reaction to Pope Francis' recent call for a "deep theology of women in the Church," I came across several pieces that got me thinking instead about the pope's comments on gays.
I cannot consider the pope's words a step forward for the LGBT community as long as loving the person whom God intended for each of us to love is still seen by the Catholic Church as "sinful."
Who exactly is not being judged here? Gay Vatican bureaucrats, gay priests, or gays, period? And does it really matter? At the risk of being a nitpicking professor, trained in the close-reading habits of a literary scholar, I would argue that it does matter.
So Pope Francis has said "yes" today, to inclusion of LGBT people in Roman Catholic worship, and "no" to the ordination of women. Ironically enough, the mainstream, conservative Roman Catholic Church would collapse without the work of women.
When Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis, many Roman Catholics were quick to optimism. Some dared to hope for something of a church renaissance, and for relief, perhaps, in the wake of the bitter reign of "God's Rottweiler," Joseph Ratzinger.
Noxious fumes assault my senses as I pull up to Old Mission Santa Barbara on a foggy Monday morning. The 'Queen of the Mission's' website said to expect "graceful lines with soft, blending colors" but I was still rubbing my eyes as I approached the front of the Spanish Colonial Revival buildings.