I had a favorite pair of loafers. They weren’t fashionable … never had been. Time came when the stitching was rotted out and they were no longer waterproof, but they felt so comfortable. I could slip them on without socks and I immediately relaxed. My body knew some “outside time” was coming. Fresh air and gardening, or just sitting on the swing. They were comfortable, comforting and connected my whole self — body and soul — to good memories. But now they were falling apart and didn’t even keep my feet dry. Should I have them re-soled and re-stitched? Or was it time to invest in a whole new pair? Maybe even change my style of leisure shoe completely?

Catholic rituals like the Mass are for many people comfortable and comforting, connecting them to a lifetime of good memories – life-cycle events, holy days, Church rites of passage. In 2010, in the post cover-up era, as we deal with the evidence of rot in the highest levels of Vatican structure, should we attempt to re-soul our church? Or should we move on to another community of faith altogether?

The Vatican has never been a follower of moral fashion; even a re-souled version of the church is not going to fit everybody’s agendas. But what many of us love — a life in which joys and losses are celebrated in liturgical ritual; the ethical consistency of its moral theology, even when we don’t always agree with it; the willingness to change, albeit in a glacial, three steps forward two steps back fashion, at the best of times; the non-literal, non-fundamentalist approach to the scriptures (we don’t do as well with our approach to church doctrine) the world-wide social justice work of the many religious and lay organizations – all of this may be enough reason not to trade in our old “shoes” for a new pair. Maybe.

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