Michael O’Loughlin | Pope Francis Sent Me a Letter. It Gives Me Hope as a Gay Catholic. – The New York Times

Mr. O’Loughlin, a correspondent for a Catholic news organization, is the author of “Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of the Fear,” from which this essay is adapted.

“When Carol Baltosiewich was a Catholic nun, she spent 10 years caring for young men dying from AIDS. Even so, the first time I spoke to her, in 2016, I was terrified to tell her I’m gay.

As a reporter who covers the church, I had started interviewing Catholics who worked and fought during the height of the H.I.V. crisis in the United States, roughly 1982 to 1996. People like Ms. Baltosiewich persisted amid frequent hostility from church leaders toward gay people and the broader stigmas of the time. A poll in 1987 found that 43 percent of Americans agreed with the statement, “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior.”

A Catholic myself, I’d long internalized that being honest about my sexual orientation could be dangerous. L.G.B.T. people have been fired from their jobs at Catholic organizations. Some groups supporting L.G.B.T. Catholics have been barred from parishes. So even someone like Ms. Baltosiewich, who has loved and served countless gay men, could feel risky.

But my conversations with Ms. Baltosiewich and others like her — the fellowship, gratitude and moments of revelation we exchanged — had a profound effect on my own faith. So much so that recently, I wrote a letter to Pope Francis to share the book I wrote based on those conversations, and even to tell him a little about myself as a gay Catholic. To my surprise, he wrote back. His words offer me encouragement that dialogue is possible between L.G.B.T. Catholics and church leaders, even at the highest levels.”

In Rift With Biden, a Dramatic Show of Force by a Conservative Catholic Movement – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Pope Francis and President Biden, both liberals, are the two most high-profile Roman Catholics in the world.

But in the United States, neither of these men is determining the direction of the Catholic Church. It is now a conservative movement that decides how the Catholic Church asserts its power in America.

That reality was unmistakably declared last week, when the country’s bishops voted overwhelmingly to draft guidelines for the Eucharist, advancing a conservative push to deny Mr. Biden communion over his support for abortion rights.

“There is a special obligation of those who are in leadership because of their public visibility,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who heads the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in Indiana, said after the vote.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT comment:

Thank you Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham for an excellent report, and for disturbing my wa, or tranquility. I enjoyed also, the many most recommended comments. I heartily agree that the the Catholic Church continues in right wing politics, and should lose it’s tax exempt status in the US as soon as possible. What a sad bunch of medieval misogynists, more famous for protecting child molesters, than following the teachings of Jesus Christ. I have been an Episcopalian all my life, but I discovered I also feel close and comfortable with the best of Buddhists, Hindus, Shintos, Moslems, Jews and pagan nature worshippers. On most days, I believe in a higher power. I once entered a Unitarian Society or Church, and discovered that I was essentially a Unitarian, someone who focuses on good works rather than dcrines claiming the truth. Part of me looks forward to the collapse of the Catholic Church, but then, in researching my historical fiction, The Tay Son Rebellion, on 18th century Vietnam, I discovered Pierre Pigneau de Behaine, who was a great scholar, a saint, and a military leader, who deeply influenced the 30 civil year war started by the Tay Son Rebellion. In recent years, my Lady gave me a copy of Eager to Love, The Alternative way of Francis of Assisi, by Richard Rohr, and I discovered that I am, in fact, a Christian, as in a follower of Jesus through Saint Francis of Assisi, who insisted that all all life forms are equally sacred David also blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Opinion | The Court and the Cross – by Linda Greenhouse – The New York Times

By Linda Greenhouse
Contributing Opinion Writer

March 14, 2019, 165
Image: The cross that stands 40 feet tall on public land in Bladensburg, Md., is the subject of a Supreme Court case.
Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The cross that stands 40 feet tall on public land in Bladensburg, Md., is the subject of a Supreme Court case.CreditCreditChip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Even before last month’s Supreme Court argument, the smart-money consensus was that those challenging the Latin cross that stands 40 feet tall on public land in Bladensburg, Md., would lose. Without debating that prediction, I want to make an obvious but, so far, underappreciated point: It really matters how the American Humanist Association and the other nonreligious plaintiffs lose.

If the justices permit the ultimate symbol of Christianity to remain, towering over other structures at the junction of two major roads, what theory will they use?

Will they say that even if such an object would be unconstitutional if erected today, this one should be grandfathered because it was put up by local citizens as a World War I memorial and stood without controversy for most of the ensuing 93 years?

Will the justices decide, as one lawyer, Neal Katyal, insisted in defense of the cross, that despite its origin as the centerpiece of Christian theology, a cross designated a war memorial acquires “an independent secular meaning?” (The Supreme Court’s leading precedent requires that in order not to violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, a government display of a religious symbol must have a “secular legislative purpose.”)”

‘Enough Already’ Said God – by  Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The famous televangelist Jim Bakker, who is preaching again on television after a rape accusation and a prison term for financial fraud, recently warned that Christians would start an armed insurrection if President Trump were impeached. “If it happens, there will be civil war in the United States of America,” Bakker told his television audience. “The Christians will finally come out of the shadows, because we are going to be shut up permanently if we’re not careful.”

Afterward, I received the following transcript of a conversation between Bakker and, er, God. It comes from a divine source.

Bakker: “Dear God, thank you for blessing me with wisdom, courage, virtue and rugged good looks. Plus humility. Please help me raise up an army to smite the infidels trying to impeach President Trump. …”God: “Oh, enough already!”

Bakker, trying to dive under the bed: “Who’s there? And oh, no! Fire! Fire! There’s a fire on my bed!”

God: “It’s a burning bush.”Bakker: “Who said that? Fire! Fire! Help!”

God: “Don’t be such a wimp: This is a smokeless burning bush. It won’t even singe your linens. So listen up. This is God. . . . ”

Here are the top two comments, I completely endorse.
Aryae Coopersmith Half Moon Bay, California 1 day ago

Thank you Nick Kristof for giving us a few laughs while pointing out the elephant in the room!

To keep it very simple — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share three key values: love God, love your neighbor, love the stranger. The rest, as they say, is commentary.


ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 1 day ago

“God: “I’m nonpartisan. I just don’t like being used. I was mortified when four out of five white evangelical Christians voted for a thrice-married liar who bragged about sexual assault — and then cited me as the reason for their votes.”

Great column, Nicholas! If anyone can call out hypocrisy, it’s God, er, and, His son.

That Trump got the support of evangelicals was definitely some sort of miracle. One that tells us more about the real morality of preachers who make their livings not so much selling God as themselves.

In a certain way, I see the connection now–at least on the hypocrisy and selling of self. It takes one to know one–Bakker and company might be selling paradise but he and his peers want a down payment first in the form of credit card donations to the show.

So what else do Trump and televangelists have in common, when not pushing the Bible or violating the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount? Or failing to offer strangers a proper welcome?

Perhaps it’s the love of large fancy mansions here on earth, over living the kind of values that might ensure them a room in God’s mansion up above.


Is This the End of the Religious Right? – The New York Times

“FOR more than three decades, conservative white evangelicals have been a dominant force within the Republican Party, shaping presidential primary contests and turning out to vote for the eventual nominee. This year, though, the relationship is coming undone, as the party — with the votes of a not insignificant number of conservative white evangelicals — is poised to nominate Donald J. Trump.For a constituency that has made conservative religious values, sexual purity and Bible-driven policy the cornerstone of its politics, Mr. Trump — the twice-divorced, foul-mouthed businessman who praised Planned Parenthood’s health services and nonchalantly gave Caitlyn Jenner permission to use the women’s room in Trump Tower — seems an odd choice.”

Source: Is This the End of the Religious Right? – The New York Times

Here is an example of many excellent comments the articulate piece above: gemli is a trusted commenter Boston 5 hours ago

“With apologies to T.S. Eliot, evangelical cats may not come out to vote for Trump, but they’re not going away. They will continue to try to force the United States to be a Christian nation, even without the help of national candidates. They intend to make the wall between church and state come tumblin’ down, their latest effort being in finding new ways to demonize the LGBT community in North Carolina.

The marginalization of the Republican Party can be dated from the spawning of the Moral Majority by Jerry Falwell, coincident with the election of their patron saint, Ronald Reagan. This was the moment that honorable Republicans who were fiscally conservative and socially moderate started to veer into the lala land of Christian fundamentalism.

While we know better than to mix religion and politics at family gatherings, we somehow thought it fine to do so as a nation. The Republican Party gave political clout to what might have been nothing more than a fringe group, allowing religious conservatives to inject their theology into public policy. Stem-cell research dried up, legal abortion rights were trampled and a Christian litmus test for national elections was firmly established.

Trump may be crass and crude, but to me his speech is no less vulgar than that of evangelicals who demean LGBT citizens, attack women’s rights and replaces science with theological nonsense. If Trump weakens their influence, that’s a small silver lining to an otherwise very dark cloud.”

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