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.
A year ago I began posting brief reflections on movies, music and culture on YouTube, probably the most watched Web site in the world. This exercise has resembled St. Paul's venture onto the Areopagus in Athens, preaching the Gospel amid a jumble of competing ideas. YouTube is a virtual Areopagus, where every viewpoint-from the sublime to the deeply disturbing-is on display. Never as a Catholic teacher or preacher have I addressed less of the "choir.”
It was with a great deal of dismay that I listened to the speeches given last Sunday at Notre Dame by Fr. John Jenkins the President of the University and Barack Obama the President of the United States. Both are decent men and both are eloquent speakers, but both, I’m afraid to say, are confused in regard to some fundamental matters.
As I was coming to the end of Ron Howard’s latest movie, “Angels and Demons,” I felt like shouting out to the screen, “no, no, you’ve got it precisely backward!” The central theme of the film, based on Dan Brown’s thriller of the same name, is the battle between “science” and Catholicism. It appears as though an ancient rationalist society, the Illuminati, which had been persecuted by the church in centuries past, is back for revenge.
The scandal surrounding the Rev. Alberto Cutie has raised questions in the minds of many concerning the Catholic Church's discipline of priestly celibacy. Why does the church continue to defend a practice that seems so unnatural and so unnecessary?
There is a very bad argument for celibacy, which has appeared throughout the tradition and which is, even today, defended by some. It goes something like this: Married life is spiritually suspect; priests, as religious leaders, should be spiritual athletes above reproach; therefore, priests shouldn't be married