September 20, 2012

IN CHARACTER:

A Comedian and a Cardinal Open Up on Spirituality (LAURIE GOODSTEIN, 9/15/12, NY Times)

Mr. Colbert is the youngest of 11 children, raised by Catholic parents who both attended Catholic colleges. His father and two of his brothers died in a plane crash when Mr. Colbert was 10. He said that after the funeral, in the limousine on the way home, one of his sisters made another sister laugh so hard that she fell on the floor. At that moment, Mr. Colbert said he resolved that he wanted to be able to make someone laugh that hard.

He is raising his children as Catholics, and he teaches Sunday school at his parish in New Jersey. "The real reason I remain a Catholic is what the church gives me, which is love," he said.

Cardinal Dolan introduced Mr. Colbert's wife, Evelyn, who was sitting in the audience, and brought her up to the stage. The cardinal put his arm around her and gave her a kiss on the cheek, and when Mr. Colbert feigned offense, the cardinal said, in a remark that brought down the house, "I can kiss your wife. You can't kiss mine."

Mr. Colbert used his time onstage with the cardinal to air his complaints about the new English translation of the Mass, which was just introduced in American parishes this year.

"Consubstantial!" Mr. Colbert exclaimed, using a particularly cumbersome word that is now recited in the Nicene Creed. "It's the creed! It's not the SAT prep."

The audience sent in questions by Twitter and e-mail, which Father Martin pitched to the two men. Among them: "I am considering the priesthood. Would it be prudent to avoid dating?"

Cardinal Dolan responded that, on the contrary, "it's good" to date, partly to discern whether the celibate life of a priest is what you want. Then he added, "By the way, let me give you the phone numbers of my nieces."

Mr. Colbert said, "It's actually a great pickup line: I'm seriously considering the priesthood. You can change my mind."

Another question was even more pointed: "So many Christian leaders spread hatred, especially of homosexuals. How can you maintain your joy?"

Cardinal Dolan responded with two meandering anecdotes -- one about having met this week with Muslim leaders, and another about encountering demonstrators outside St. Patrick's Cathedral.

But Mr. Colbert's response was quick and unequivocal. "If someone spreads hate," he said, "then they're not your religious leader."

Posted by at September 20, 2012 9:13 PM
  

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