Letters to the Editor

William F. Powers: Consult pastors before trying to join

Josh Shaffer’s Feb. 13 column “She can’t join Catholic Church, despite calling” on the travails of the woman who wanted to become a Catholic is accurate but incomplete.

The experts consulted gave the legal or canonical response to Maril Doster’s predicament: What to do when prior marriages are involved.

The first thing one does is not to consult a lawyer. Rather it is to heed the merciful approach counseled by Pope Francis, who teaches that marital issues should be addressed first of all on the pastoral level. A pastor may find a door to open that a canon lawyer shuts.

Good pastors have “the smell of the sheep,” as the pope so graphically put it. They are in the field with the sheep and know the real-world conditions.

There is in the Catholic Church today the equivalent of the “don’t ask; don’t tell” principle with reference to such issues as birth control and homosexuality. This will be denied by the “authorities.”

Doster should understand that the only real authority is God’s call. She had heard that call. There is a way to join the flock.

William F. Powers

Chapel Hill