One fascinating thing about Pope Francis (pictured here) is that he is willing to speak his mind even when what he says disturbs many in the church, including some of its leaders.
The pontiff -- in response to a question or comment about what a man called "the crisis of marriage" -- said he believed the “great majority” of Catholic marriages being celebrated today are invalid because couples do not recognize that marriage requires a lifetime commitment.
The Reuters story reporting this then noted that when the Vatican later issued a transcript of the pope's remarks, the words "great majority" were changed to "some."
Well, sometimes even popes say more than they mean to, though I'm guessing he really meant "great majority" and went along with softening that to "some" in the transcript.
But let's consider the substance of what he said -- words that upset quite a few Catholics, including some who would identify themselves as conservatives.
One big problem, Francis said, was that "We are living in a provisional culture.” I assume by that he meant that we live at a time when many people are reluctant to make lasting commitments not just to marriage but also to much of anything. He's right about that. We're no longer a nation of joiners or of stayers if we do join. We often bowl alone.
This provisionalism clearly is evident in the religious world, where growing numbers of Americans are walking away from the faith traditions in which they were raised and becoming unaffiliated. It's also clearly evident in politics, where a top Republican like House Speaker Paul Ryan can betray his moral center by agreeing to back Donald Trump, a presidential candidate who opposes much of what Ryan has spent his career supporting.
I'm in no position to judge which Catholic marriages are valid. Not my job. But I do think Pope Francis correctly targets a problem of commitment and consistency in our culture -- one that the church (and all faith traditions) should be speaking to.
I don't think Francis is arguing for foolish consistency, the tendency never to change one's mind even when confronted by facts that would seem to require such a change. Rather, he's promoting the idea that some matters (marriage, parenthood) require lifetime commitments and cannot be thrown out just because Thursday is the day we set out our trash for pickup.
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AN AMERICAN MUSLIM DOING HIS PART
Donald Trump says American Muslims know about radicals in their midst, but they don't notify authorities about them. Here is a piece by a Muslim proving that wrong. The author, in fact, told the FBI about the Orlando shooter well before the massacre.
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P.S.: I hope you'll be able to tune in to the KCPT-TV "Beyond Belief" special report on religion in Kansas City at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Necessary details are at the link I've given you here.