Big Change

Fortune finally smiled at Jack and I and the Archbishop finally retired Monsignor W. There is the old adage that the Devil you know is better than the one you don’t know. Despite this Jack and I were more than willing to take our chances. The new pastor was Msr. Charles Murphy who was a friendly and pastorally oriented man. He had unlike the outgoing pastor very few rules and seemed open to everything that we were trying to achieve. He gave no indication that he would operate with a heavy hand and our preliminary conversations seemed most positive. He was a rules guy but had a nice way of being solid in his convictions and yet willing and able to handle diverse opinions on key moral teachings of the church. An example of this rose around the birth control issue. I was very respectful of all of the churches teaching but found little theological foundation for the Catholic position on birth control. Hearing weekly confessions about the anguish that this teaching created in the lives of wonderful people did little to make me enthusiastic about the prohibitions.Msgr held the line on the teaching but it came to my attention that periodically he would refuse absolution to a woman but tell her that this is the Catholic teaching but two of the younger priests may be able to provide you with further counsel. He could not condone giving them permission but his humanity allowed for others a gray area.
The one area of his personality that presented a challenge to Jack was the breakfast conversation. Jack was truly one of the most affable persons on the planet but not before he had his coffee. Monsignor on the other hand was chipper and could talk a hole in a pot. Also like me the good Monsignor was a sports enthusiast and Jack knew absolutely nothing about sports. Before going downstairs to meet the Monsignor Jack would knock on my door and ask for a one sentence sports opening line. I would tell him things like “Willis Reed had a phenomenal game last night and the Knicks blew away the Celtics.” Jack would go down fill his coffee cup and repeat the line and Msgr would go on and on. Jack would not know Willis Reed from Teddy Roosevelt but it worked to get him to the point where the coffee would create the blood flow for the day.

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