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Douthat first gained attention by his caddish outing of a young woman whose judgment was sufficiently impaired that she wanted to have sex with him -- an offense against taste rather than morals. In a world anything like that to which he aspires, he would be kicked out of his exclusive mens' club and snubbed in polite society.


Excellent piece, but all the Chunkier Reese Witherspoons feel that I should correct you on the number of the "fine in his way" Pope: he was Paul VI, not Paul IV.

As I was taught, Cardinal Roncalli became Pope because he was old (almost 77 at the time of his election) and the Cardinals envisioned a caretaker pontiff, instead of the apostle of aggiornamento they received. Evidently, they hadn't learned from history: Leo XIII was sixty-eight when he became Pope and reigned for twenty-five years.

Or the caretakers and the placeholders don't get the memo that they are supposed to be caretakers and placeholders.

Lance Mannion


Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! How did I mess that up? Thanks for catching it. I made the correction. Please don't tell Sister Mary Carmel. (I think she's still with us, God bless her.)


I think David Lodge captured the feeling well. Sometime in the mid-1960s, Roman Catholicism was faced with a need to change, and it didn't. It was mainly about birth control. No one really cared about meatless Fridays. It was birth control and the top down authority that made change impossible.

Every religion has to change with the times, even the ones that claim never to have changed with the times. Look at the Hasids who claim to practice a truer form of Judaism, but are just trapped in an 18th century revival. It's not like they eat meat and cheese or have a wife and concubine like Abraham.

I knew old time Roman Catholics when I was a child, and they all had a lot of hope for their religion, but their religion failed them. It was like communism in the 1970s USSR. It was all inertia and transaction. So many just gave up and breathed a sigh of relief. It was like an infirm, aged family member finally dying.

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