In his remarks to the press this past Sunday, following the release of Antonio Spadaro’s broad-ranging and inspiring interview with Pope Francis, New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan called the pope’s pronouncements “a breath of fresh air” and added, “He’s a great relief to all of us.”
I have felt it, too: relief. Pope Francis has redefined no dogma, changed no doctrine; he has done little more, actually, than change the tone of the voice of Rome, and yet that tonal adjustment has allowed an exhalation that feels like a sigh of completion. Amid a Church that has held its breath for decades while traipsing the wire between a pre- and post-concillar understanding of itself, this feels like we have finally reached the other side. As I read the profoundly pastoral Spadaro interview, though, I kept wishing my friend Sarah could read it, too.
I never met Sarah; ours was one of those modern online friendships defined by two people who never reside in the same time zone, yet—thanks to the combox and email—become intimate, devoted friends. She was a Lutheran, a scholar, a veteran who served twenty years in the military and then took up accounting, and she wrote the most fascinating, informative missives. When I mentioned that I was considering purchasing a handgun, Sarah gave me serious advice about what weapon might best suit me and also sent along images of handbags suitable for gun-carrying. When I was slow to make my purchase she hectored me about it, because, in her considered opinion, self-sufficient, firearms-proficient women could civilize the whole world in a week.
I loved her. She was kind and funny, and generous; the sort of person who is aware of her own shortcomings and therefore quick to give everyone else the benefit of a doubt. Although a Lutheran, she loved the Rosary and prayed the beads every night along with a podcast recording I had made of each mystery. She read, and loved, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Edith Stein, and also Pope Benedict XVI, with whom she identified, calling him “undervalued.” Still, she declared she could never convert because “the church wouldn’t have me, as I am.”
By which she meant, as a post-operative, transgendered woman.
Read the rest at: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/09/is-there-room-for-sarah