Super Chunk

I’m just talking here.

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April 18th, 2003 · No Comments

I should probably not comment on this story right now, as I have been awake since 4AM and I’m a little pissy about that. (Side note: there are those who say that this third-trimester sleeplessness is “practice” for the first few weeks of having outside babies. I am just getting crabbier and crabbier (watch as my language becomes less appropriate!), and this is not a good sign.) But here I am…

A lot of people were surprised when John Paul II turned out to be relatively conservative. When he was elected (1978, I think), there was a widespread expectation that he would change the official doctrines on things like birth control and the ordination of women. (He hasn’t, and he won’t.) I don’t think it’s terrible to have a Pope who is conservative in terms of doctrine — particularly in light of the social issues he has helped to bring to the fore — but it seems that this new encyclical reverses John Paul’s own previous statements about ecumenism, and I find that alarming. In the last month I have attended a UCC church and a Lutheran church, and I participated in the communion ritual at both places. It means something different in those churches than it does in mine — the physical act of sharing a meal is more of a focus than the nature of the meal (physical or spiritual) — but I don’t think that’s wrong. I think it’s beautiful that those communities would welcome strangers and guests to their table. That’s how it’s meant to be.

When Dan and I did our marriage preparation weekend, someone else at the retreat asked about communion. The (very wise, very fun) priest who was leading the weekend said this: “If you’re not Catholic, we don’t expect you to say that you believe the things that we do. This is what Catholics believe about the Eucharist [and he went on to explain that theology]. If you don’t believe that, you should probably not receive communion in a Catholic church, because the act of receiving implies a profession of faith (it’s not just bread and wine, and it’s not symbolic). You are welcome to BE there. You can come through the line and receive a blessing. We want you to feel welcome — but don’t compromise your own beliefs.”

It’s messy and complicated to talk about. But on the face of it, I just feel like we need more of that kind of leadership — explaining why and how, and mostly why — and i think this new writing from the Pope is just more “Don’t.” And (although it seems to be the general M.O. for the institutional Church) that never got anyone anywhere.

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