Friday, May 2, 2014

Married priests vs. women priests

Pitting those on the outside against each other and creating false dichotomies is a common tactic among those who hold the reins of power, whether in civil society or in the Church. Creating jobs vs. protecting the environment, organized labor vs. immigrants, African Americans vs. Latinos/as vs. Asian Pacific Americans, married priests vs. women priests...It's a shame when an intelligent columnist like National Catholic Reporter's Jamie Manson rises to the bait. In her latest blog post, the prize-winning graduate of Yale Divinity School falls into the trap. "A step forward for married men is a giant step backward for women," Manson deplores.

As someone who has covered both the optional celibacy/married priests' movement and the fight for women's ordination extensively both on this blog and as a partner on Celibacy Is the Issue's Rentapriest blog, I would like to offer an alternative, more nuanced opinion on this question.

First, it's important to remember the context of the Pope's expression of his thoughts on the ordination of viri probati. He is conversing with Dom Erwin Krautler, a bishop who has worked in the Xingu in Amazonia for almost half a century. Dom Erwin -- and Fr. Paulo Suess, a priest with extensive experience in ministry among the indigenous peoples -- have brought their concern that in Xingu, there are 800 communities and only 27 priests and this means most of the faithful only have access to the Eucharist a couple of times a year. And the two point out to the Pope that this situation is not uncommon in the rest of Amazonia and in other rural, poor, and predominantly indigenous parts of Latin and Central America as well. It's a priest shortage of a magnitude we can't even begin to imagine in the United States.

So the Pope asks them what they think should be done about the situation. I'm sure that they talked about the fact that celibacy is an extremely foreign concept in indigenous communities throughout the Americas, North and South. In fact, those with pastoral experience in those communities will tell you that young men are perceived as not yet mature or ready for leadership positions until they have gotten married and started a family. So choosing celibacy or accepting a celibate person as a leader requires those communities to set aside deeply ingrained beliefs. As such, it has been much easier to get vocations to the married permanent diaconate than to the priesthood in those communities. And we must also understand that the idea of women priests enjoys virtually no support in those cultures. It's not even on the radar screen and North American and European Catholics who want to promote it need to understand and accept this, lest we be guilty of a left-wing version of cultural imperialism.

So the matter came up of the late Don Samuel Ruiz's project in the San Cristobal de Las Casas diocese in Chiapas, Mexico. Don Samuel filled his predominantly indigenous diocese's leadership vacuum with married deacons to the extent that the institutional Church banned the diocese from ordaining any more deacons, arguing that this policy detracted from pursuing celibate vocations to the priesthood. The diocese ordained almost 400 deacons, many of whom had formerly been lay catechists. It has been said that Don Samuel was operating under the assumption that the Church's position on mandatory celibacy would soon change and he wanted to have a pool of men who could easily be transitioned into the priesthood once that change occurred.

Dom Erwin and the Pope also discussed Msgr. Fritz Lobinger's idea, laid out in his classic book Like His Brothers and Sisters: Ordaining Community Leaders (New York: Crossroads, 1999), of moving away from a special clerical caste and reaching into the community to ordain people who were already recognized as elders, as community leaders. Lobinger, who at that time was a missionary bishop in the Diocese of Aliwal in South Africa, saw that calling forward and forming leaders from the local community made it easier for the Catholic Church to become inculturated than staffing it with missionary priests who might or might not be comfortable with local traditions and customs.

And, again, mandatory celibacy has also faced a serious lack of cultural acceptance in the Church in Africa. One obviously thinks of the married and excommunicated Zambian archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and his Married Priests Now prelature, but there are many other independent Catholic churches that accept married priests and are being somewhat successful in wooing priests who want marriage and a family away from the Roman Catholic Church (see, for example, "40 Catholic priests quit over church celibacy rule, Nairobi Star, 8/25/2011). Certainly, in that context, allowing a married priesthood could strengthen the Church on that continent too. And, again, women priests are not on the radar at this point. There is no widespread popular support for them in Africa. Univision's survey of Catholics published on the one year anniversary of Pope Francis' pontificate last February found that fewer than 20% of Catholics in the two African countries they surveyed, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, supported women priests. In the European countries and the United States, by contrast, there was a healthy margin of support for women's ordination.

The most important "take away" from the Pope's conversation with Dom Erwin is that the pontiff is looking for a more collegial and decentralized governance of the Church, and we should view this as a welcome change after decades of dictatorship from Rome. The days of "one size fits all" ecclesial policies and practices will be over. Pope Francis strongly emphasized, as he has on several occasions, that he wants the bishops to propose solutions tailored to the problems and circumstances of their own countries. For places like the Xingu or San Cristobal de Las Casas, that may mean ordaining married community leaders who are already deacons or lay catechists. These men enjoy the support of their faith communities, understand the problems they face, and won't become discouraged and flee back to their home countries or towns when the going gets tough.

Indeed, we should be encouraged that the Pope has read and reflected on Msgr. Lobinger's ideas because, according to veteran Roman Catholic Woman Priest Victoria Rue, "a primary resource [on how women are called to and prepared for the priesthood in the RCWP movement] is South African Bishop Fritz Lobinger from his book Like His Brothers and Sisters: Ordaining Community Leaders. He offers the model of a Church of Communion, a participatory model where leadership is not limited to the ordained. Lobinger's model suggests Ordained Community Leaders (OCL's) that are part of a team with an ordained minister who deals exclusively with liturgy. While the inherent problem of "the holy priest," the sacred priest, still exists in this model, what is of interest from Bishop Lobinger's work are two ideas: first, that ordination is offered by the community to leaders of various ministries, such as visiting the sick, or education; second, that priests should be called forward by their communities. This is the model of the early church..." And in fact, in RCWP ordination ceremonies, time is alloted to hear from representatives of the ordinand's community and family why they believe she would make a good priest or deacon. Pope Francis' direction, although he hasn't taken it to the point of women's ordination, is a good one, and it is in line with how we understand important ways in which the priesthood must change for the future good of the Church.

In North America and Europe, an inculturated Catholicism may very well involve the ordination of women at least to the diaconate to begin with. The equal participation of women in all spheres of public life is a well-established concept and cultural norm in those countries. Such a move would recognize the important role women have played in liturgy, religious education, distribution of Holy Communion, and social ministry in the Church our countries. And -- and on this point I believe Jamie Mason is correct -- such a move would probably stem some of the drain of talented women from the Roman Catholic Church to RCWP and other independent Catholic churches. To that extent, it would temporarily weaken the women's ordination movement. For many women, simply being allowed official access to the diaconate might be enough for now. One could argue, however, that the experience of seeing gifted women in the role of deacon would eventually lead to the question of why the full range of Holy Orders might not be opened to them.

This being said -- and given what we have previously said about Pope Francis' belief in a more decentralized Church -- it is unrealistic to think that the Pope will come along and impose women deacons on the local Church. As Manson correctly points out, Pope Francis seems very interested in working towards repairing the historic schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. Allowing for a married priesthood and women deacons would not be foreign to that concern. Full women's ordination to the priesthood would, and so I would not expect it during Francis' papacy. However, as feminist theologian Sr. Teresa Forcades i Vila has often pointed out, no real change comes from above, and if women really wanted their role in the Church to change, they could make it happen quickly. If we want to see women deacons, we have to do the hard work of advocating for them with our local bishops. Get them on board with the concept and Pope Francis won't stand in the way.

But we can't hold up progress towards a married priesthood because women aren't included. Women's ordination groups have long worked in coalition with married priests' groups. Several Roman Catholic Women Priests are married to former Catholic priests -- Juanita and her late ex-Jesuit husband Don Cordero, Mary Grace Crowley-Koch and her husband Ron, Mary Theresa Streck and her late former priest husband Jay Murnane -- and married former priests from CORPUS and other organizations have been instrumental in helping to prepare women for the priesthood. We can't ask them to put their own goals on the back burner while we wait for the institutional Catholic Church to come around on women's ordination.

This is a pope who has a flexible attitude towards married priests. He already demonstrated it as Archbishop of Buenos Aires when he was the only person in Argentina's Roman Catholic hierarchy to reach out to that country's late married bishop Don Jeronimo Podesta while the rest of his colleagues shunned him. After Podesta's death, Pope Francis remained in communication with his widow, the late Clelia Luro de Podesta, who was active in the married priests' movement both in her country and at a continental level and regularly bent the Pope's ear on that issue. And even before Francis' election, there has been a move in the Catholic Church to quietly speed up the laicization process (which has also become somewhat more decentralized) so that married former priests can get on with their lives and regularize their families' status. There have also been moves from some bishops to encourage those priests to remain in the Church and bring their experience and gifts to the table as lay leaders. This is in line with Francis' posture of mercy first. All of this is positive and a move in the right direction.

I also question Manson's blanket assertion that the viri probati "will very likely be married men who have exhibited a strict adherence to official church teaching," filling it with conservatives who will not challenge the Church's teaching on women's ordination. Permanent deacons, like priests as a matter of fact, come with all sorts of views -- some expressed publicly and others held privately so as not to jeopardize their positions. They are different from the married "Pastoral Provision" priests who have joined the Roman Catholic priesthood precisely because they are opposed to changes in their original denominations such as the admission of women and gays into the priesthood and the episcopacy. Manson is correct that those priests have not supported change in the Catholic Church. Ironically, many of them have even voiced support for the Church's celibacy rule! (You have to wonder what their wives think of that...). Actually, one possible advantage of admitting married Catholic men to the priesthood might be that there will no longer be a need to fill vacancies with priests who have transferred from more liberal denominations just because they don't like change.

Finally, one of the main benefits for women that I see in the admission of married men to the priesthood -- and readmitting married former priests and allowing current priests to marry, should it come to that -- is that we will have a group of men who are used to dealing with women. In a good marriage, men do listen respectfully to their wives' opinions. How many of us have had the experience of being treated dismissively by celibate male priests who don't view laywomen (or women religious either) as worthy of their attention or consideration? I believe the introduction of married men into the priesthood can only lead to better communication between priests and women. And being listened to as someone whose views are worthy of respect is the first step towards equality.

Photo: Juanita and Don Cordero, both married priests, celebrate the Eucharist together

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I believe in Life

By Jose Arregi (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Humus: Cristianos en Gipuzkoa Blog
April 27, 2014

What is Easter faith but this -- to believe in Life?

When I say believe, I'm not saying profess beliefs. I'm saying live, I'm saying trust yourself and others in spite of everything, I'm saying rebel against all the powers that suffocate us, I'm saying stand on the side of the wounded, I'm saying be the humble yeast that transforms and raises history up, I'm saying breathe peacefully every night and keep on walking every day despite failure, the cross, and death. Believing in Easter is a way of living.

"Passover" (pesah, "passing") is what the Jews called the liberation from slavery under Pharaoh, the crossing of the desert to full freedom, hoping for the Land flowing with milk and honey for all. But thousands of years before the Jewish religious holiday, Easter was -- without that name -- the shepherds' and farmers' feast of springtime -- the feast of lambs and fields of wheat. A feast of life and bread.

I believe that Jesus of Nazareth -- although he wasn't the only one, nor was he perfect -- lived and proclaimed grace and freedom. He was a prophet of Life. And so the powers that be condemned him for standing in solidarity with all the condemned. They killed him, but his life didn't die, since in our lives the fullness of Life is flowing and our lives flow towards their fullness in a permanent passing or Easter.

I believe that Jesus rose because the good life, the goodness that lives in the heart of every living being is immortal, like beauty, in the Heart that beats in everything. Life revives, everything that is changes -- the butterfly into an egg, the egg into a caterpillar, the caterpillar into a chrysalis, the chrysalis into a butterfly, the butterfly into an egg, in flight, on earth, and the earth in bloom, the flower into a bee, the bee into wax, the wax into flame, the flame into light, light into shadows, shadows into light, air, breath, energy or spirit ... that hovers over the waters of life, that vibrates in the heart of all beings, forms of Being, Breath, Soul, Communion and the immortal Whole. But what happens when we "die", when the "material" structure holding our consciousness, emotions and memory disintegrates? I do not know what to say, but I believe it is not the end of our life, but its Easter or Passover towards the Fullness that we are, to the breadth of the Life, the Heart, and the Infinite Memory we also call "God."

I believe that Jesus didn't rise "after" his death but throughout his whole life, even in his death. Jesus' good life resurrected in the eternal fullness of "God" when he healed the sick, giving them back vital trust, when he shared the table with those who had been excluded by religion, when he proclaimed the poor peasants and fishermen of Galilee blessed -- blessed because they were no longer going to be destitute, when he told parables that called people to mercy and caused surprise, when he subverted hierarchy and consecrated fraternity. Jesus rose during his life and when, because of his life, they condemned him to die on the Cross, then he finished resurrecting.

I believe his disciples -- especially his women disciples -- went back to believing in him and following him for the same reason they had believed in him and followed him in life -- because they saw in him the prophet of liberated life. Their eyes were opened again and they confessed the prophet of life as a living martyr. I believe that to believe in the Living One you don't need empty tombs, or angels, or miraculous apparitions because everything is animated by the Angel of Life, everything is a miracle, all tombs are empty of absence, full of good presence, of the Grace of being that Jesus experienced. It's only necessary to open your heart and eyes to touch Life in all wounded hands and feet, in everything that is and beats -- the anonymous traveler, the expelled immigrant, the abused woman, the less fortunate elderly person or child, the long term unemployed. And in the humble stone of the road, or in the robin singing near the Narrondo after sunset who sings again before the dawn.

I believe that the Presence of Compassion comes to meet us at every step, calls us by name, and says to our hearts, "Friend, fear not. Trust and live."

Welcoming the power of the gospel

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
May 4, 2014

Luke 24:13-35

Two of Jesus' disciples are going away from Jerusalem. They are walking along, sad and desolate. In their hearts, the hope they had placed in Jesus faded when they saw him die on the Cross. However, they're still thinking about him. They can't forget him. Might it all have been an illusion?

As they're talking and discussing all that they've experienced, Jesus approaches them and begins to walk with them. However, the disciples don't recognize him. That Jesus in whom they had trusted so much and whom they had loved so passionately now seems like a travelling stranger to them.

Jesus joins their conversation. The travelers listen to him surprised at first, but little by little something stirs in their hearts. They don't know exactly what. Later they will say, "Were not our hearts burning while he spoke to us on the way?".

The travelers are attracted by Jesus' words. A time comes when they need his company. They don't want to let him go. "Stay with us." During dinner, their eyes are opened and they recognize him. That's the first message of the story: When we welcome Jesus as a travelling companion, his words can awaken in us the hope that has been lost.

Over these years, many people have lost their trust in Jesus. Gradually, he has become a strange and unrecognizable character to them. All they know of him is what they can rebuild in a partial and fragmentary way from what they've heard from preachers and catechists.

Undoubtedly the Sunday homily fulfills an indispensable task, but it's clearly insufficient for people today to be able to come into direct living contact with the Gospel. The way it takes place -- before a people who must remain silent without expressing their concerns, questions or problems, it's hard for it to accomplish regenerating the wavering faith of so many people who are seeking, sometimes without knowing it, to meet Jesus.

Hasn't the time come to establish a new and different space, outside of the Sunday liturgy, to listen together to the Gospel of Jesus? Why couldn't we laypeople and priests, women and men, convinced Christians and people interested in the faith, meet to listen to, share, discuss and receive the Gospel of Jesus?

We have to give the Gospel with all its transforming power the chance to come into immediate direct contact with the problems, crises, fears, and hopes of the people of today. Soon it will be too late to recover the original freshness of the Gospel among us.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

One year of excommunication: Padre Beto looks back

By Padre Beto (em português -- English translation by Rebel Girl)
CartaCapital
April 29, 2014

Today, April 29, 2014, marks the one year anniversary of my excommunication from the Catholic Church after refusing to remove my reflections on the sexual morality of the Church from the Internet or apologize for having made these reflections.


It seems paradoxical, but it isn't -- my refusal to retract the material from the Internet or ask forgiveness for having reflected freely, was confirmed during this year as purely consistent with the Christian faith and with my mission as a priest.

During this year it became very clear to me that not apologizing meant saying "NO" to the Church's lack of reflection. It meant defending the fundamental dignity of human beings -- the possibility to reflect and the freedom to publicly express one's thoughts.

During this year it became clear that not apologizing meant that being a priest is not being a laborer in an institution but being someone who has the obligation to live the criteria preached and lived out by Jesus Christ -- love of God and love of neighbor.

During this year it became clear that the refusal to apologize was taking responsibility for bringing love of neighbor up to date. After all, how can I love my neighbor while demanding that homosexuals, lesbians, and transsexuals live as celibates? How can I love my neighbor without understanding that his or her sexuality is a Blessing from God and that its non-acceptance is an illness of a society that just doesn't reflect on, doesn't study, and doesn't want to understand human nature?

In a year of excommunication, it became clearer to me how Christian denominations need a more lucid interpretation of the Bible and, in particular, need to understand that the biblical text contains not only the Word of God, but also Stoic, Jewish, and Hellenistic worldviews typical of antiquity, a time in which men and women didn't know human nature and sexuality as we know them today.

During this year as an excommunicated person, the danger of religions forming people with dogmatic and fundamentalist minds, minds that reproduce this way of thinking in other sectors such as politics, society and the media, became clear.

The importance of deepening the dialogue between faith and sexuality became clear to me. Mainly at those times when I was with LGBT groups (such as, for example, when I received the Prêmio Rio Sem Preconceito). I could see more clearly the violence and deaths caused by homophobia.

Today, after a year, I feel I'm more a priest than ever. I could have been trying to start a family, developing particular projects, or even affiliating with some political party to run in the elections this year (invitations weren't lacking). But instead of taking some other path, I've remained a priest and I feel called to be a priest. I remain a priest with the obligation to spread the message of an all-loving God who wants the maturity and happiness of all humankind.

I still have a lawsuit in common court against the Diocese of Bauru. Not for revenge, but because I believe that my excommunication was an unjust and hasty act which infringed the right to respond that must exist in any trial process. I'm continuing the lawsuit because what is right must be done. Just as Pope Francis went to the hotel the day after his nomination to pay for his lodging, so must justice be done. The institutional Church needs to understand that you can't treat people as disposable objects when they become "inconvenient".

This year of excommunication was a year of learning about human nature, about our humanity, especially in moments of encounter with the LGBT community.

After a year of excommunication, I'm still happy to be able to do something so that our society becomes more humane. I'm still glad to see my latest book, Verdades Proibidas ("Forbidden Truths"), being read and commented upon. I'm still happy to be invited to celebrate people's weddings. I'm still being called to celebrate people's funerals. Finally, I'm continuing with my mission to be with people in their joyful and sad moments.

Photo: Padre Beto receiving the Prêmio Rio Sem Preconceito for his work on behalf of Brazil's LGBT community

Monday, April 28, 2014

J. I. González Faus: "It is mandatory that the Church think about how the objects of worship can serve the poor"

La Nueva España (English translation by Rebel Girl)
March 31, 2014

Jesuit José Ignacio González Faus, one of the two or three great Spanish theologians, warns of the pressure under which Pope Francis is operating and advocates for the Church to dispose of its assets in favor of the poor. Yesterday, on Saturday, González Faus gave a lecture, "From Romero to Francis, and the poor of Christ," sponsored by the Comité Óscar Romero in Asturias. Monseñor Óscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, was assassinated on March 24, 1980, after having tenaciously denounced the injustice against his people. And although earlier he had been a mitred one along classical lines, it was another assassination, Jesuit Rutilio Grande's (March 12, 1977), that accentuated his denunciations in the name of the Gospel.

González Faus, born in Valencia in 1933, entered the Society of Jesus in 1950. He capped off his theological studies with a PhD from the School of Theology in Innsbruck (Germany). He has been a professor at the Instituto de Teología Fundamental de San Cugat del Vallés (Barcelona), as well as at various Latin American universities. He was also in charge of the Centro de Estudios Cristianismo y Justicia in Barcelona. Among his books,  La humanidad nueva. Ensayo de cristología (1974), Acceso a Jesús (1979), Clamor del reino (1982) and Proyecto de hermano. Visión creyente del hombre (1989) stand out. His latest published works are El rostro humano de Dios, Otro mundo es posible...desde Jesús, Herejías del catolicismo actual and El amor en tiempos de cólera...económica.

What is going from Romero to Francis?

What they both have in common is being in tune with today's world from a gospel perspective. Looking at the world from the eye of the Gospel which, for Romero, led to his assassination in El Salvador and, for Francis -- who has a broader magisterium -- has meant the opposite of a perspective taken only from religious power, which is what the official Church often has, as if it thought itself the voice of God and were more of a judge than a brother or sister. And during the time between the two, we've had what theologian Karl Rahner called an "ecclesial winter", that is, after Vatican II, out of fear or the foolishness of one side, came the reaction of the Curia who were supposed to have it more or less thought out. I've said sometimes that we've put the Council in the freezer and let's see if we'll take it out now and put it in a bain-marie so it'll come back. Perhaps Francis' great promise will be that we'll take the gospel perspective out of the freezer.

Did you just ask in a letter to the Pope for the Church to dispose of the objects of worship to give to the poor?

In that letter, I don't do anything more that quote some phrases of John Paul II when he said that in times of crisis it's almost obligatory for the Church to think how the objects of divine worship can serve the poor. The only thing I'm saying is, if that were done, God would be worshiped more than by having them tucked away wherever.

Some would call these proposals demagoguery because, who would you sell the Toledo monstrance to, for example?

I never talk about "selling", but "disposing of", which is a sufficiently vague word, and I even say in this letter that a group of economic experts should be named to study to see if anything can be done with this. Perhaps the example of the Toledo monstrance wasn't well put, but there are an infinite number of other things, like golden chalices and other objects. What I would have liked would have been to see this concern in the Church, and since I haven't seen it, I'm thinking that if Francis would stir up our bishops and remind them of what John Paul II said, the Church would set an example and worship God better than having these objects stored in a showcase.

Just as you recall John Paul II's phrase, you usually cite the tradition of the Church and the mistakes it's made, in your book La autoridad de la verdad. Momentos oscuros del magisterio eclesiástico ["The Authority of Truth: Dark Moments in the Magisterium of the Church"] for example.

That's also something I owe to Rahner, that is, that we not neglect Church tradition because, as well as having some very regrettable aspects, it also has enormous wealth. I've gotten into Church tradition and I think that its original source, the Gospel, is what should motivate the Church, and not current progressivism or things like that. It also scares me a bit that the generations that follow, because of not knowing Latin or being of a different era, think that the world began with them and that Church tradition is limited to the 19th century. But that's not tradition and I would like to advocate for a return to the best of early Christianity.

With tradition in hand, can one be critical of the present-day Church?

One should be, because it's obvious that the Church has often made mistakes. What happens is that maybe those errors can be put in context and we can say that at the time it wasn't such a big mistake. But what's terrible is when a debatable measure is accepted and then they want to change it into the word of God. Take the example of the Papal States. I don't know if between Charlemagne and Pope Adrian I it was good or bad to give political power to the Church. I see it darkly but in that era, everything was quite dark. What I don't understand is that ten centuries later, when Italy wanted to be unified, Pius IX said that the Papal States weren't his but God's, and that therefore he couldn't cede them. That made no sense. Maybe in the 9th century it was an exceptional measure, but in the 19th century it made no sense whatsoever and it had to be taken away by force, unfortunately.

Have you ever been censured by the Holy See for your criticism of the Church or your writings?

There's been some, but it's never come to blows. And partly too because my Jesuit superiors have been very good to me, even in the General Curia of the Society in Rome.

Also appealing to tradition, several cardinals have expressed their opposition to the solution proposed by Cardinal Kasper for divorced people who have remarried, that consists in giving them a second chance so they can have access to the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist. Which side are you on?

When you put it like that, it's like asking whether someone is for Barcelona or for Madrid, but I share Kasper's view, and those who have expressed themselves against it are three or four cardinals, which isn't many either. It surprised me that Cardinal Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, opposed it because I read something of his recently on liberation theology in the book he published with Gustavo Gutierrez, which was one of the best and most lucid things that's ever been written. I've wondered if, had Müller been in Ratzinger's position in 1984, that less than fortunate document on liberation theology would have come out. As far as those cardinals appealing to tradition against Kasper's idea, that's very good, but in the Gospels, one already notes that Jesus' tradition itself had applications and exceptions. For example in the clause that Matthew adds, where he says that whoever divorces his wife commits adultery, except in the case of “porneia”. That's a word that can be translated as "prostitution" or "illicit union." But, as well as being hard to translate, it's almost certain that Jesus didn't offer that caveat, but that the author of the Gospel inserted it to apply the Master's words to his time.

What about the second chance that the Orthodox give?

Later, the Orthodox Church established what's called "the discipline of mercy." It's clear that marriage should aim to express the totality and faithfulness between people and that God's love doesn't turn back but, just as a priest might fail in his vocation, sometimes there might be a mistake, something might fail in a marriage. Then, when the error occurs, the Orthodox Church says a "discipline of mercy" is fitting. Appealing to tradition, the Council of Trent didn't want to condemn the Orthodox churches for following the "discipline of mercy" but it also said that the Catholic Church isn't doing wrong if it doesn't follow it. Not applying mercy might not have been bad at the time of Trent, but it might be doing wrong today.

You've said that Pope Francis is surrounded by "Pharisees and Herodians".

"Pharisees and Herodians" is an expression from the Gospel of Mark which says that something Jesus did was bothersome and that from then on, the Pharisees and Herodians agreed to put an end to him. I took that expression because the Pharisees and the Herodians couldn't stand each other in those days, but united around a common enemy. I don't know who the Pharisees and Herodians are today, whether they're the CIA, the KGB, the Mafia, the Roman Curia...I don't know, but it seems that there's something right now that's creating resistance to Francis. In fact, Andrea Riccardi, the founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, a man who's such a part of the institution, just made some statements saying watch out, because the Pope is facing very strong resistance.

You referred earlier to liberation theology. At Müller's initiative, Francis received its creator, Gustavo Gutiérrez. Is something changing in that regard and does it have to be done, even though without naming it?

Gustavo Gutiérrez already said that. If you don't want to use the expression, don't use it, but you have to think about the problem of this world of hunger, destitution, the poor, the huge differences from God's perspective. We can call it what we want, but it's clear that that is contrary to the will of God. The best thing about Müller is not that he gained an audience for Gustavo Gutiérrez who, on the other hand, deserves it because he's been a faithful man who's never wanted to break with the Church and he's one of those men I would canonize in a heartbeat. What's best about Müller is that book I mentioned that they wrote together. In the fourth chapter there's such a deep understanding by Müller of what liberation theology is, that it would be appropriate for all those who think it's reheated Marxism and all those sloganeers from Wall Street to read it.

With Francis, the Jesuits are in clover. The Pope will be canonizing Fabro and Anchieta, he visited Father Arrupe's tomb, and he granted that famous interview to the Society's magazines. Is that good or bad?

I don't like being in clover. I understand that this Pope is a Jesuit and, for example, he might have great devotion to Father Arrupe. That's one level of his personal existence, but once he's pope, at a certain point he's no longer a Jesuit to everyone else, but he's Brother Francis, successor to Peter, and nothing more. As for the Jesuits, we have some of everything. Some will be happy with Francis but I know that there are also Jesuits who just don't understand Francis. I'm not sure who once said that the best thing about the Society today is that we're the most disparate order but we no longer fight among ourselves, because when I was young, we were fighting much of the time, but we've learned to coexist.