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A New Springtime for Liberal Catholicism?

Is everything up for grabs?

As time marches on in the Age of Francis, this question, and all that it implies, has taken on greater and greater gravity.

A certain giddiness is detectable among those who believe that Francis could, at any moment, overturn ancient doctrines and practices. So far, this hasn’t happened, and there isn’t much hard evidence to suggest that it will. (The Pope’s ill manner of speaking, though supremely frustrating, doesn’t necessarily portend a plan of action.) But wishful thinking, once entertained, is hard to dismiss. And the liberal Catholic changeophiles are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to find something — anything — in the Church for Francis to reform, revise, or reject.

Case in point: an article by Fr. Donald Cozzens in Commonweal (Oct. 9), in which he argues that “it’s time to review the practice of attaching grave sin to missing Mass.”

Fr. Cozzens, recall, is the author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood (2000), a pre-sex-abuse-crisis book that caused considerable buzz at the time for stating that “the priesthood is or is becoming a gay profession.” (Cozzens estimated that the percentage of homosexuals in the priesthood back then ranged somewhere between twenty-three and fifty-eight percent — way out of proportion to their percentage in the general male population.)

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