New York: Saturday

The briefest of a visit to New York. Arrived from Philadelphia mid-day Saturday;  had my speaking session just off Washington Square at 2.00pm, as usual in a Protestant setting. (The question Catholic authorities ask: “Is he in good standing?”)  But a very welcoming Catholic pastor did put us up in the rectory for the night.   Had a little time to stroll around Washington Square after the talk, and then on to Mass.

Later a group of eight of us, including two of my own relations, went out to dinner.  And this morning (Sunday) I am on the train to Providence, where I am speaking tonight.

There was a full hall in attendance in New York, and it was a lively occasion. As in the other gatherings, there were many people who have been involved for years in one or other aspect of the reform movement. We are having a lot of discussion on Pope Francis.  Most, including myself, are positive and encouraged by him and what he has achieved so far;  and we regard the first stage of the Synod as a significant success.  These speakers usually end with the prayer that he will stay alive and well for many years to come.  But there are others who do not share our enthusiasm. Like the woman at yesterday’s meeting who asked me to explain, since I am so positive about him, why is it that he continues to support the crack-down on the US nuns, and why he made Muller a cardinal!!

Clearly the LGBT agenda is very strong over here.  In all my meetings so far there have been a few younger men from Dignity, who spoke impressively and with great coherence about their situation. What strikes me about them is the extent to which they are committed to the faith, and even the Church, in spite of everything, but they are very clear in their call for total equality for all sexual orientations.  Politically over here the movement for civil marriage is spreading rapidly from state to state, and the bishops would seem to be losing that battle fairly comprehensibly.

Chaput of Philadelphia came out a day or two ago with a trenchant criticism of the Synod, and by implication of Francis. Bad strategy on his part, I would have thought.

This morning I said a reluctant goodbye to Jeannine Grammick, who has been driving me around since Washington. It was worth coming over here just to spend these few days with her. One of her much publicised quotes when the Vatican demanded her silence some years ago: “I will not co-operative in my own oppression!”