But Harris said she sees the problems caused by small, rural parishes closing due to a shortage of priests as having grave consequences for U.S. Catholic religious life.
"The people of God in the Catholic communion are starving because of the want of Eucharist," she said.
"Why is it that the people of God have to starve while the institution is holding to clergy celibacy?" said Harris, who lives in Schoharie County, about 150 miles north of New York.
"I have to place the excitement of the pope’s visit next to the fact that there are now only a few churches in my county," she said.
…The pope remains a symbol of a hierarchy "that has failed the victims," Kirk said, adding that he believed media coverage of the pope’s visit was focusing too much on Pope Benedict’s pastoral image rather than on what Kirk said was the pope’s potent political symbolism.
"If the pope had gone to the nearest soup kitchen after arriving and (President) Bush had been the third person, rather than the first person, he had met, I’d be happier," said Kirk.
Catholic students are a minority at Union but one of the largest single denominational groups at the predominantly Protestant school.
Although Union is still perhaps best-known for being the midcentury intellectual home of such leading Protestant theologians as Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, since the 1970s the school has been known as a leading center of study in the United States for black and feminist liberation theologies. The prominent black theologian James Cone, for example, has taught at Union for more than three decades.
But Union also has had a long tradition of hosting well-known Catholics. Liberation theologians such as Peruvian Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez have taught for short terms at Union, which has ties with Columbia University. Catholic scholars not associated with liberation theology, including the late biblical scholar Sulpician Father Raymond Brown, have also been permanent faculty at Union.
Of the current five full-time Catholic faculty members at Union, three are women. Union’s current Catholic faculty includes Jesuit Father Roger Haight, whose book, "Jesus Symbol of God," was sharply criticized by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when it was headed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. The Vatican has banned Father Haight from teaching at a Catholic institution.
Another Roman Catholic theologian who has had trouble with the Vatican is Paul F. Knitter, currently Union’s Paul Tillich professor of theology, world religions and culture.
Kirk told [??????????] April 20 that Union was lucky to have scholars like Father Haight and Knitter on the faculty, adding that the student view of Pope Benedict at Union is colored in large part by the pope’s relationship with them, with figures like Father Sobrino and by Pope Benedict’s past criticism of liberation theology.
For her part, Harris — a Catholic who used to be Presbyterian — said her concern about church reform, specifically the need to expand the eligibility for clergy to include noncelibate men and women, is coming out of real and "lived experience."
Catholic women at Union share a commissioning service as a tribute to their work and also as a formal recognition that they cannot be ordained as clergy within their church.
Harris said she would like to be ordained if she could be, though she doubts that her ineligibility will change in her lifetime. Still, she added, "We never thought we’d see altar girls and now we do have altar girls."
So is the above a typical New York Times article? Or perhaps Newsweek, AP, or some other typical outlet looking for the negative side of the Pope’s visit?
No we owe this article to Catholic News Service the U.S. Bishop’s news arm. Surely going to an extremely liberal Protestant seminary is the best place to get reactions to the Pope’s visit. Surely you wouldn’t want to actually highlight the largely positive response from Evangelicals such as in this post.
It is also pretty ironic for those from liberal Protestant congregations that each year have less and less attendance being concerned over the availability of Catholic priests. Anglicans and other allowing pretty much anybody into leadership roles has only lead to splits and smaller congregations and yet this is the cure they would thrust on us. Maybe miserly loves company. There is also an irony of Protestants worried about Catholics not having access to the Eucharist. Why exactly are they worried about access to "just a symbol." Protestantism has been the larger force ever for denying people the Eucharist and while the majority in good conscience don’t realize this, it is rather silly for them to lecture us on access to the Eucharist.
American Papist has a good roundup of reactions to this article.