Fun facts about me: My mom’s whole family is Catholic going back centuries. It’s part of our family legacy – the Veteri Ponte (shortened to Vipond) were Catholic barons in England, and depending on who was ruling and whether they were Anglicans or Protestants, we had our land granted and taken away over and over. One of my ancestors was Queen Elizabeth I’s handmaid, and apparently she was mouthy (now you know where I get it from).
Which is all to say, Catholicism is part of my identity. I was loosely raised in the Catholic church. I stopped short of getting confirmed because I didn’t want to make a promise to a god if I didn’t know that I believed in it. Later in adulthood, when I was attending a Jesuit university, I started inching further back toward it. I took classes on Catholic history and on sacramentalism, I started reading the Bible more, I grew an affinity for Graham Greene. One of my favorite novels is still The Power and the Glory, in no small part for this very twentieth-century Catholic point of view, which I still think is a beautiful way of framing Christ:
“Man was so limited: he hadn’t even the ingenuity to invent a new vice: the animals knew as much. It was for this world that Christ had died: the more evil you saw and heard about you, the greater the glory lay around the death; it was too easy to die for what was good or beautiful, for home or children or civilization–it needed a God to die for the half-hearted and the corrupt.”
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From 1925-1961, the Home, in Tuam, Ireland, was where thousands of unwed mothers and their “illegitimate” children were sent to pay a penance for their out-of-wedlock pregnancies in the form of indentured servitude overseen by Catholic nuns. Like the Magdalene Laundries, which were also run by the Catholic Church, the Home’s treatment of these women/girls and their babies was abusive, with moms and children often kept separate from each other and ostracized by the surrounding community. Now, five decades after the Home was shut down and destroyed, the remains of 800 hundred babies, the children of those women whose only crime was getting pregnant out of wedlock, have been discovered in a septic tank on the property. Keep reading »
While working at an orientation event at Sonoma State University of California, student Audrey Jarvis was asked by her supervisor — twice — to remove or hide her crucifix necklace because she was told it might offend someone or make new students feel unwelcome. What?!? Keep reading »
The Vatican denounced an American nun, Sister Margaret A. Farley, on Monday for her theological teachings in support of same-sex relationships, remarriage after divorce and masturbation.
In her awarding-winning 2006 book, Just Love: A Framework For Christian Sexual Ethics, Sister Farley writes that “masturbation … usually does not raise any moral questions at all.” Sister Farley, a member of the Sisters of Mercy and a professor of Christian ethics at Yale University, also wrote:
“[S]ame-sex relationships and activities can be justified according to the same sexual ethic as heterosexual relationships and activities … therefore same-sex oriented persons as well as their activities can and should be respected whether or not they have a choice to be otherwise.” Keep reading »
Besides just giving up meat on Fridays (or pretending to when your parents ask), Lent is a great time to break bad habits. Just like the hose down Bourbon Street gets at midnight at the end of each Fat Tuesday, you too can use this as an opportunity to purge yourself of poor choices. Sure, it’s not quite the act of self-sacrifice the Pope would want from you, but it’s a change for good. And what religious figurehead wouldn’t want that? Keep reading »