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Pope highly praised but clings to dogmas
by Jake Highton
Jan 02, 2014 | 3021 views | 1 1 comments | 114 114 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pope Francis in his homilies, press conferences, interviews and off-hand remarks to visitors has impressed Catholics worldwide by his humility, earthiness and friendliness.

Typical comments by faith panelists published in the Reno Gazette-Journal: “A witness to the world.” “A visible role model.” “An inspiration.” “Fountain of grace.” “Uplifts the very soul.” “Lover of all mankind.” “A Christ-like pope.”

Wonderful. He’s “one of us” whether Catholic or not.

Kenneth Lucey, philosophy and religion professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, was the only RGJ panelist who did not skirt the truth. He rightly urged the ordination of women.

But Lucey should have gone farther, urging Francis also to abolish the dogmas against abortion, homosexuality and gay marriage.

Oh, the pope has uttered biblical pieties about “judge not that ye be not judged” and “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. ” But he refuses to go to the root of the problem for many Catholics.

Until he approves those essential changes, Francis remains mired in the past. All the encomiums heaped on him by leaders of all religious faiths will not change reality.

The headline over comments by the faith panelists proclaimed: “Can Pope Francis change world?” That is a terrible cliché that is not true. Even Honest Lucey succumbed. He declared in his panel segment that the pope “could change the world … by altering the rules of the church.”

Making Catholic women priests will “hardly change the world.”

Unchristian Christians

So-called Christians are so often unchristian. The United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania defrocked a pastor because he officiated at his son’s marriage to another man in 2007. The pastor, Rev. Frank Schaefer, who had led a congregation in Lebanon, Pa., was recently stripped of his clerical credentials.

Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño, who is very much a Christian, promptly offered him a minister’s position in the California-Pacific region that includes Southern California and Hawaii.

The official Methodist position is opposition to same-sex marriage and the ordination of gays. But many Methodists disagree.

“I think it’s time for some civil disobedience in our church,” Bishop Carcaño says. Indeed it is.

Mere handshake meaningless

Some Americans were angered by President Obama’s handshake with Raúl Castro at the recent memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Cuban haters even despise common courtesy.

Handshakes mean nothing. It’s deeds that count. The deeds needed: the end of U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba, closing and leaving Guantánamo which is on Cuban soil and opening U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba.

How long, o lord, how long will we have to wait for an American politician with the courage to urge reversal of the barbarous and senseless Cuban policy?

Flouting tradition

Junior senators are supposed to be seen but not heard. Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York defies that hoary tradition.

She criticized Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois for his refusal to back her bill reforming sexual assault in the military. Durbin, a guardian of those Senate customs, fumed at such freshman impertinence.

Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan worked out a bipartisan deal on the farm bill. Senator Gillibrand objected strenuously because the bill called for food stamp cuts. Stabenow, for all her intense efforts to compromise, was wrong.

Gillibrand was not only right to confront the ancient Senate tradition, she deserves thirty-three cheers for doing so.                                              

Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.
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Joann Phillips
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January 03, 2014
Mr. Highton:

Organizations generally have constitutions/bylaws, a mission statement/statement of purpose, and other standards that guide their members and the leadership in what it means to be a member of that organization. For churches it is generally expressed in a creed/statement of faith, doctrinal statements, dogmas, & rituals drawn from whatever their holy book is.

When one freely belongs to an organization but differs with the principles of that organization there are things that can be done such as work from within to change the principles or leave and find/establish an organization with principles that don't compromise one's personal position.

Jimmy Carter severed his relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention several years ago over a difference between the SBC doctrines/beliefs and his personal beliefs and interpretation of the Scriptures. I admired him for how he addressed the situation. He and others came together and formed the New Baptist Covenant as an alternative to the SBC.

The Pope isn't "mired in the past" but upholding the Scriptures, as interpreted by the Catholic Church, and the Traditions of the Church.

He doesn't have the authority to unilaterally change the teachings of the Catholic Church, but could lobby for those changes and convene the Cardinals and seek for those changes, if he so chose.

There are those within the Catholic Church who agree with it as it is. But for those who would like a church with different positions on social issues & doctrines & dogmas, I suggest that they follow Mr. Carter's example and look for a church whose positions match their own or establish their own denomination/oversight association.

The changes that you mention may be essential to you, but to the Catholic Church based upon its interpretation of the Scriptures, they are essentially out of step with Scripture and therefore with doctrine.

If you feel so strongly, instead of writing about it, get involved within the Catholic Church and do something about it or set up your own system of doctrines, dogmas, & rituals.

(And this goes for any church or organization whose position you disagree with.)

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