All individuals and institutions are, to some degree, marked by inconsistency. Not all of our ducks—conceptual and behavioral—are ever quite in a row. But sometimes, an inconsistency is so sharp, so jarring, that it crosses the line into hypocrisy. A case in point is the recent decision of the Public Broadcasting System to exclude any religious programming from its future schedules. The usual reasons are trotted out: religion is divisive; it would be impossible to give equal time to all denominations; the public forum should not be the place for partisan speech but rather for objective exploration of issues, etc. etc.
I first became acquainted with the barbarism of certain aspects of Shari’a law through an article published a few years ago in the New Yorker magazine. The author detailed how, in many middle eastern countries, Muslim men use the prescriptions in the traditional Islamic legal code to terrorize, brutalize, and in extreme cases, kill women who, they claim, have committed sexual offenses. He specified that some of the victims are put to death by their own brothers and fathers!
A few weeks ago, in the wake of the Fr. Alberto Cutie scandal, an editor at CNN.com asked me to write a short piece (800 words) on the meaning of celibacy from a Catholic standpoint. So I composed what I thought was a harmless little essay, laying out as simply and straightforwardly as I could why the Church reverences celibacy as a spiritual path.
This past week in Washington D.C. I participated in the annual meeting of the Academy of Catholic Theology, a group of about fifty theologians dedicated to thinking according to the mind of the church. Our general topic was the Trinity, and I had been invited to give one of the papers.
I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to Europe, where my team and I were filming for our ten-part documentary on Catholicism. We journeyed throughout France, Germany, and Poland, taking in some of the artistic and architectural glories of European Catholicism. We photographed at Notre Dame Cathedral and Sainte Chapelle in Paris, at Chartres Cathedral, at the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar which houses Grunewald’s magnificent Isenheim altarpiece, at the imposing Cathedral of Cologne in Germany, and finally at Wawel Cathedral in Kracow.