So what has everyone been up to?
As I noted in my last post, I had to take some time away from posting here to work on another project. That went pretty successfully, so I have some freedom to come back here. I didn’t make it back before the end of Lent: I barely made it back before the end of Easter! For those who had a chance to use my Lenten reflection booklet, I hope it was a good companion on your journey. It seems a little odd to me that we have books of reflection for Advent and Lent, but not ones for the joyous and glorious seasons of Christmas and Easter. Hmmm…this is something to mention to my editor…
I do have an Advent booklet coming out at the end of the year (though I do not know its final published name yet) and I will be writing another Lenten booklet this summer. Look for those.
It’s been a busy time if you are an ecclesiologist: Pope Francis has issued a new motu propio and a new draft on structural changes at the Vatican. I have not yet had the opportunity to reflect seriously on them yet. There are a couple things that seem very positive, but others that I’m still apprehensive about. I wish I could approach texts like this with greater openness. I need to trust the Holy Spirit more.
It’s always a busy time if you are a moral theologian. Here in the diocese of Worcester, I had the opportunity to be with Bishop McManus when he presented on the topic of transgenderism at the yearly bioethics conference sponsored by Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy. As I should have expected, this created another tempest in a teacup over what was really a very uncontroversial presentation of Catholic teaching on the subject. Particular exception was taken to His Excellency’s use of the research done by Dr. Paul McHugh, who has become a high-profile target for suggesting that maybe we think more carefully about modernity’s obsession-of-the-moment: gender identity. There should be nothing especially controversial about this either, but if a conversation on the subject takes as an indisputable starting point that gender is entirely a social construct with absolutely no meaningful basis in biology, there’s no room for meaningful discourse anyway – just shouting and arguing.
There remain legitimate questions about the best way to minister to persons in the Church who experience gender dysphoria. This is the new version of the question of how to minister to persons who experience same-sex attraction. There remains a fundamental divide between acknowledging the dignity of a person and loving him or her and accepting all their actions or their perceptions about reality. But this is not how the mandated rules of public discourse function anymore: a rejection of a person’s act or a person’s point of view is a rejection of the person. We are all mere summations of our attitudes and ideas; matter and form matter no longer.
So it continues. The world remains in travail until the full revelation of the sons and daughters of God (Rm 8:22). Let’s keep loving.