Two years ago I was in El Salvador and asked a fellow Jesuit priest if he thought that Archbishop Oscar Romero—famously slain while celebrating Mass in 1980—would ever be beatified. The Salvadoran Jesuit’s answer: only when all of the people who loved Romero and all of the people who hated him were dead.
I often think I hear colleagues asking, “How could we attract nuns to our church?” Actually they’re talking about “the nones,” of course. One of the clearest findings of the Pew Forum’s new religious landscape study is that fewer and fewer people have any religious affiliation at all. Catholics and mainline Protestants show the biggest drop.
In the past week, Kelly Brown Douglas, a black Episcopal priest and religion professor at Baltimore’s Goucher College, joined students as they watched, analyzed and agonized about their city erupting in protest after the death of yet another black man, Freddie Gray, in police custody.
On Friday, the Baltimore state’s attorney criminally charged six officers involved in Gray’s death and declared his arrest was illegal.
As I came down the escalator at the library, the man in front of me apologized when he saw that I had stopped behind him. He gently moved his cane-carrying companion over to one side, apologized again, and motioned me past.
Years ago, I might not have thought twice about it. Now, having a family member for whom movements such as standing up can be painful because of degenerative arthritis has made me more aware—perhaps nowhere more so than at church.
Growing up as a cradle Presbyterian and a preacher’s kid, Presbyterianism was my sociocultural world. When my father got angry with me or my sister, he would often preface his remarks with the exasperated endearment, “Child of the covenant!”