Excuse me, Charles Dickens, but for Catholics, this is the best of times and the worst of times.
Best of times because it is always fascinating to watch the cardinals convene, pray and decide who will lead the billion Catholics around the world. Best because it is always invigorating to the faithful to see a new person take charge in a renewal of the Church.
Worst of times because the media gets entranced and starts to say the stupidest, rudest, most offensive to Catholics things they can think of.
Yesterday, for example, Shepherd Smith of Fox News was in Rome, speaking with a Catholic commentator. He raised an eyebrow and asked her about the politicking he says goes on among the cardinals. The young woman looked taken aback and said there really wasn’t politicking going on when they meet. Come on, Shep said with a sly smile, you know it does. Again, she denied it. Smith was exhibiting a total misunderstanding of what’s under way. He put it in terms of slick politicians instead of people weighed down by a heavy spiritual burden.
Then Sally Quinn piped up. Quinn, rumored to have slept her way to the top, writes a faith forum for the WaPo. She considered herself an atheist, but has grudgingly conceded that He might exist. Who better to tell religious people what to think than her? She let fly on Face the Nation Sunday, telling moderator Bob Schieffer of the danger the Church faces:
But it’s on the way to irrelevancy if they don’t start including women and certainly people of other color and ultimately homosexuals. And so, I mean, they’re all against homosexuality even though so many priests are gay.
Where to begin? You can be a gay and be in the church or a priest. It’s participating in it that is the evil. Why should priests marry? What business is it of hers? Why should women become priests? Certainly women have a big role in Catholicism. Ask anyone brought with a nun for a teacher. The devotions to Our Lady rank high with Catholics, something not echoed in the Protestant world. Scholars and philosophers have debated these issues for centuries and come to certain conclusions. It is not a democracy, Sal.
I very much like how Penn Gillette addressed this in the following interview:
Thank you, Mr. Gillette. Exactly.