For many people, Lent is associated with certain kinds of sacrifice: giving up something one enjoys for the season, abstaining from meat on Fridays and fasting on prescribed dates, writes Franciscan Fr. Daniel Horan in his latest column.
But what do these forms of self-denial mean during a global pandemic in which nearly everybody has been experiencing involuntary self-denial for months?
Some people might find the idea of imposing further burdens on themselves cruel, Horan writes, adding he is deeply sympathetic to that view.
"However, I think this particular Lent is a time in which spiritual transformation, ongoing conversion, and personal and communal renewal is needed more than ever," Horan says. "It just might mean that we don't go to our classical Lenten storage closet on Ash Wednesday to dust off our usual penitential practices."
In a commentary for NCR, Fordham University professor Patrick Hornbeck writes about the case of Sandor Demkovich, a church organist fired from his position. Demkovich has alleged he was fired because of his health and sexual orientation and is suing the Chicago Archdiocese.
"Sadly, stories about Catholic institutions firing LGBTQ+ employees have become all too familiar," writes Hornbeck. "Across the U.S., parishes and schools have dismissed numerous staff for marrying same-sex partners or even just showing support for LGBTQ+ friends and family members. As commentators have pointed out, Catholic employers have not taken comparable action against employees contravening other church teachings."
The archdiocese says that Demkovich's supervisor, when ridiculing him for being gay and overweight, was "simply exercising his constitutional right to discipline an employee," Hornbeck writes. "What the pastor said and did may have been objectionable, but a court simply cannot look into the matter."
- In a July 8, 2020 ruling, the Supreme Court said
the California Catholic schools sued for job discrimination for firing
teachers had acted within their rights in the recent firings.
- Advocates say that a worrying wave of religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws have left many LGBT employees vulnerable.