Second last stop: Portland, Oregan

This morning I flew from Sacramento, and journey of one and a half hours, to Portland.  The talk tonight was once again in a Protestant Church, — a very nice one with a young woman minister, who welcomed us very graciously.  It gave all the impression of being a church which was full of life and energy.  Our gathering was only one of a number that was taking place this evening.

A large crowd came to hear me, and they were a very receptive audience.  There were lots of questions and comments, and the whole thing went on for two hours. Even at the end people were staying around chatting with each other. A lot of questions around what the people can do to help bring about change.  I try to energise each group for the work ahead, particularly this coming year of the Synod, and also to give them hope that their efforts will bear fruit for the good of the Church. A young woman in the audience spoke very well about her generation, and how the Church can reach out to them. She stressed the need to go out to them, rather than expecting them to come to us, and to listen to their experience and their questions. She said they are materially rich and spiritually poor, and she challenged us of the older generation to find ways to communicate our spiritual values to them in a way that is respectful, not dogmatic.

Tomorrow is my last talk of the tour, in Seattle.  One strong impression I have after the month is that the people who make up the reform movements in the Church here in the US are wonderfully kind and generous people.  I have so enjoyed meeting so many of them, but with the constant regret that I have had to move on so quickly. I have met people of deep spiritual lives, and full of love, who find themselves on the fringes of the Church, or even outside it, and viewed with suspicion. It is so tragic that the authorities cannot recognise the enormous resource that they have at their disposal, and open the doors to them without fear.

Incidentally, in Sean O’Malley’s Sixty Minutes interview, broadcast here two nights ago, he twice used the word ‘disaster’ to describe the Vatican’s actions against the US women religious. I suspect that will take the ground from under the CDF and Archbishop Sartain on this one.

Please God