In the last few days, Christianity has been in the news a lot, for a variety of reasons. First, there’s the new pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI. I only know about him what I read in the papers, and what I read at first alarmed me—that he did not take very seriously the sexual abuse scandal that’s damaged the Church. (As I read on, it seemed that perhaps he had woken, after a while, to the reality of it.) I’m a Protestant, not a Catholic, but I recognize the great influence that the Catholic Church has on the world, for good or ill. The abuse scandal is an unfortunate defining moment in the Church’s history, and I can’t help but view this appointment through that lens. A church leader who fails to take action against the cancer that put protecting the organization above protecting children is no leader worthy of the title. So what will Pope Benedict XVI do? Will he shine a light into the dark corners of the Church, to bring healing? Or will he continue to deflect the matter as overblown and unimportant? At this point, we can only hope and pray.
The second thing that’s brought the church into the news is so appalling I hate to think about it. That’s the action that the radical right, here in the US, is planning to take in order to ram President Bush’s judicial nominees through the Senate ratification process. I was stunned to hear that Senator Frist, the Senate Majority Hatchet, is planning to appear at a rally before a Kentucky mega-church, calling on Christians (by which he means right-wing Christians) to lobby their senators to exercise the “nuclear option”—to throw out the Senate rules as they’ve been observed practically forever, change the rules to get Bush’s ill-qualified nominees into the courts, and advance the radical right-wing agenda. This action is so divisive, and I believe so unchristian, that it makes me ill. Here’s a good, very brief summary of it, from a faith perspective, at faithfulamerica.org.
So here’s my plug, as a Christian, to all of you to support organizations such as faithfulamerica.org or moveon.org or any of dozens more that are trying to bring a sane balance back to matters of faith and politics in the U.S.