Though he said he failed to see the connection betwee the fifth and eighth commandments ("Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor"), Father Paul Byrnes led our "Why Catholic" group on March 12 to pray for mercy for all the times that we destroyed relationships or reputations.
I believe those commandments, and the reqeust for mercy, also would apply to the times we confuse or corrupt others' thoughts or perspectives by our own dissidence or rebellion against authority, simply because we feel that we are entitled (or beholden to an opposite point-of-view or opposing group of characters) to stir up bad feelings among our audience.
Father Paul did it again: He contradicted more than clarified. He confused more than amused. He left me, anyway, feeling uneasy about him when the session was over. He leaves an impression that he is very uncertain, even uneducated, about his topic -- the Catholic faith -- and his pastoral responsibilities.
In response to one participant's question, "When will we hear priests speak out from the pulpit against abortion?" he replied: "Oh, I wouldn't! You're presuming that I would!"
Well, yes. You are a Catholic priest. We just might expect you to feel comfortable addressing the issue from the pulpit -- not politically, of course, but pastorally.
Catholics today yearn for pastoral direction. It would be lovely if more of our priests would speak clearly, comfortably and concisely on the issue of abortion -- and on other matters of moralitty. (Fortunately, I know at least two priests who do.)
I didn't find anything worth notating in Father Byrnes' session. He showed clips from the movies Friendly Persuasion (having to do with matters of conscience related to the commandment "Thou shalt not kill") and Dead Man Walking (related to the morality of capital punishment.
Father Bynes did enunciate his personal position that the church's teaching on life should include all aspects of it, from womb to tomb; and he handed out two articles, Abortion Absolutists and Finding Renewal. Both appear in America, the National Catholic Weekly, published by the Jesuits, a very liberal order.