May 18, 2009
I read with great fascination and interest two recently excerpted articles in our Commercial Dispatch: one in Friday''s edition by Susan Jacoby, "an atheist and an ex-Catholic," and one in Sunday''s edition by David Gibson "Is this the new Catholicism? Yes."
As a life-long Catholic and active member of our local parish, Annunciation, I praise our paper for running these articles; when Catholic membership in the paper''s circulation area comprises no more than 2 percent or so of the population. It is indeed flattering to be the recipient of such coverage.
However, as Tertullian said so well about the Catholic faith way back in the second century A.D., a comment still relevant in our own 21st century, "In essentials, unity; in non essentials, freedom; in all things love."
The Friday article about celibacy is about one of those non-essential issues. Current policy about mandatory priestly celibacy could be changed tomorrow and indeed has been lifted for those many married Episcopalian and Lutheran clergy who have converted to Roman Catholicism; these good married men are allowed to practice as married priests in our Church. No celibacy required of them.
As for the "real dilemma for American Catholics today is not whether Notre Dame is Catholic, but whether we are." We Catholics know that this flap is not of the essence of what it means to be a Catholic; the essence of "whether we are" Catholic is profession of our Nicene Creed and then doing what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 25: 31-46, i.e. "feed the hungry, welcome strangers, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked and care for the imprisoned."
Controversy over whether priests are required to be celibate or whether President Obama should or should not receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame distracts folks from the real meaning of what it means to be a Catholic; it is that last phrase, "in all things love," which separates the sheep from the goats.
Paul J. Ackerman, Columbus