Pope Francis’ private meetings with Kim Davis and others at the Vatican Embassy in New York:

Because Kim Davis had become a public figure championed by many people for many reasons not necessarily her own (who knows?), the Vatican needed to acknowledge that as it welcomed her as an individual. The truth is that some people who champion her are not only against gay marriage in the secular state but are those who promote hate and prejudice against the gay and lesbian community. Yes, Pope Francis met with Yayo Grassi, a gay man AND his partner– a fact that addresses the issue of consistency regarding his stance of being welcoming and promoting dialogue. But without clarifying that and qualifying the Davis visit, opportunities for misinterpretation and politicizing of her visit became rife. Kim Davis is a public figure, whereas Mr Gassi is not. Had Mr. Gassi been a public figure, the playing field would have been more balanced.

I would like to affirm and promote Pope Francis’ insistence on ongoing dialogue. A Church that promotes love, charity and that preaches against prejudice and hatred, must always be open to hear all sides, all perspectives to inform her pastoral response. Love requires a listening stance. Of course the Bible is an essential source in the conversation but by no means can it be an exclusive one. If the Church took every verse of the Bible on an absolute literal level (without honoring context, Church Tradition and the latest in biblical scholarship) adherents could justify prejudice against all kinds of people. Tragically, they have throughout history. In other words, without ongoing dialogue with all kinds of people and all branches of knowledge such as psychology, anthropology along with the Bible, and peoples’ experiences, the Church would condone all kinds of bigotry and hatred in God’s name–just pick your verse. As for those who adhere to a strict literal interpretation of all Biblical prohibitions, even they admit to various criteria for prioritizing them. In truth, most acknowledge that charity and love toward others must always prevail whatever they may choose for themselves. God bless them. God bless us all.

HOPE–How Christianity Can Play its Part on the World Stage Part 1

Inspired by watching Religion and Ethics on PBS this morning, I would like to begin a series of reflections on what part Christianity can play on the world stage today.  At its core, Christianity offers HOPE, a hope centered in– but not limited to– the promise of Resurrection and eternal life. In truth, what Christians call “the Easter mystery” must echo in daily life, giving evidence of its reality in all human dimensions.  When taken in the full scope of its Judaic foundation, the Resurrection’s import is not only future-directed but extends to the past, present and future equally.  Only when hope is afforded its complete multi-directional realities can its ultimate gift—the celebration of the “eternal now,” (some prefer the phrase “the perfect present”)—be realized.

Living in “the eternal now” imbues the present with transformative power.  The reality of Resurrection offers Christians the capacity to heal the fears, the hurts, regrets and resentments of the past and move forward in humility and truth.   Indeed, Christian hope grounds itself in humility, insisting that Christians cultivate knowledge of history with a spirit of truth, never denying its individual and collective wrongdoing but neither ignoring nor discounting its positive contributions.  This Hope-infused-truth allows present choices to be informed by the past so that with prayerful care, the past does not perpetuate its harm into the future.  Christianity can achieve its greatest human potential when Christians invite people grounded in other religions, philosophies and cultures to identify either the same or parallel expressions of hope with humility and truth, identifying and building upon a cultivated “Common Ground” in the present moving toward a more humane and compassionate future.

In the coming weeks I will explore exactly how the Christian story, its history and daily experience of Christians today supports this HOPE.  I invite Christian readers to share their insights so that together we may embrace Resurrection Hope most fully.  I also invite people of other faiths and backgrounds to share HOPE perspectives in their beliefs, concepts and/or faith experiences.  Together we just might be able to identify and apply common ground principles, evidencing hope through mutual respect and celebration of the best of our humanity.