American author of twelve novels and nine works of non-fiction
NO FAIR: How The Church Changed
My first crisis of conscience came when I was a child. My best friend was the boy next door, and when I learned that he was a non-Catholic my heart sank because that meant he could never go to heaven. What? Through no fault of his own, Peter would spend all eternity in the lake of fire? That struck me as – in the mantra of childhood – no fair! What kind of God would make such a rule? If I loved Peter, why couldn’t God?
Then one day Sister Rita told us that a priest had been excommunicated for preaching “No Salvation Outside the Church.” That afternoon I rushed home. “Ma!” I said, “They excommunicated a priest for teaching No Salvation Outside the Church!”
My mother at her ironing board replied simply, “I heard.”:
“But I thought that was what we believed.”
“What do we believe now?”
“We believe ‘Live and let live.’”
The archbishop who had excommunicated the anti-semite priest, Fr. Leonard Feeney, was Boston’s Richard Cushing, whose sister was married to a Jew, whom Cushing loved. He put that experience – love – ahead of a thousand year old Catholic doctrine – condemnation. And then, with Cushing in the lead, so did Vatican II.