There’s no fight like a church fight.
Charleston’s bickering Episcopalians have lately reconfirmed that maxim’s validity.
Or are all of those church folks feuding via the courts — and letters to the editor — still Episcopalians?
And there’s no church flap like one raised when a pope appears to soften — or harden — the Roman Catholic line.
With apologies to George Orwell: After a Vatican-endorsed publication on Thursday reported Pope Francis’ observation that “the dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent,” lots of the faithful — and unfaithful — fairly wondered which teachings were more equal than others.
The pope also said: “The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.”
That big-minded confession inspired Slate senior editor Jessica Winter to hail a Porter-Gaud graduate as a replacement for a Supreme Court justice — though not on the bench. As Winter wrote:
“Antonin Scalia, as of Thursday’s papal bombshell, you are no longer America’s Catholic. That mantle has now passed to Stephen Colbert. Stephen Colbert is the greatest thing to happen to American Catholics since Vatican II. He provides day-to-day proof that devout Catholicism can coexist with critical thinking, irreverence, a guiding belief in equal rights, and a fundamentally anti-authoritarian worldview.”
There’s more. But this is my column, not Winter’s, which you can read at slate.com.
A man of fine taste
The host of Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” did show humble grace in May.
Understandably upset after sister (not Sister) Elizabeth Colbert Busch lost the 1st Congressional District election to Mark Sanford, Colbert vowed on his program to “no longer enjoy South Carolina’s tangy, savory, juicy and deeply delicious barbecue made with our unique, mustard-based sauce.”
He said he was switching to “North Carolina’s sauceless, vinegar-based, meat product that they call barbecue.”
Yet after sampling some of that noxious Tar Heel mix, he rapidly exhibited severe nausea. Then, after spitting it out, he proclaimed: “I can’t do it! I can’t do it! I love South Carolina too much!”
Back to the pope:
The Most Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone, bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, told my distinguished colleague Adam Parker of Francis’ comments: “I welcome his insights. He’s got a way about him that’s refreshing.”
And religion has a way about it that’s uplifting at best — but tragic at worst. For instance, Islamic zealots have deemed it an act of faith to slaughter Christians in Pakistan and Kenya over the last few days.
Hey, those who invoke a Higher Power are at times tempted to inflict Almighty wrath. That scary group includes some Christians.
Back to pontiff ponderings: Francis on Friday didn’t sound like he thought the church’s longtime stand against abortion was a “small-minded rule.” He told a group of Catholic gynecologists that abortion was a symptom of today’s “throwaway culture.”
He added: “Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord.”
And while the “right” to abortion ranks highly in feminist doctrine, it now carries this side-effect transcending creed: Since medical technology has let many pregnant women learn the sexes of their unborn babies (or, if you prefer, their fetuses), males carried to term have been outnumbering females by growing margins, especially in China and India.
That’s because many more mothers choose to abort females than males.
Outside the law
Hey, this conservative doesn’t want to ban abortion four decades after Roe v. Wade. On a practical level, this moral battle must be waged through sympathetic persuasion, not criminal-justice coercion.
Still, the “pro-choice” side should reflect on this enlightening quip from Ronald Reagan: “I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.”
And I’ve noticed that nearly everybody who expresses opinions on abortion, or religion, is asking for trouble.
So that’s enough — maybe too much — on both topics.
Meanwhile, whether you’re Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, atheist or otherwise, heed this eternal advice from former Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell:
“Keep the faith, baby.”
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.