Apparently I’ve annoyed hundreds of Crux readers by writing that Pope Francis’ strong defense last week of the Church’s contraception ban left me “devastated.”

“Pathetic.” “Laughable.” “Ignorant.” A “lightweight,” a “whiner,” and a horrible writer. That was the thrust of the response. Jo said she should have my job. “Convert,” emailed Tracey. “Protestants are cool with whatever.” Others equated questioning the rules with hating the Church.

I disagree, of course, but it’s okay.

I’ve been a reporter all my life. I’m used to annoying people. Besides, there’s always the occasional “you’re-doing-great” e-mail to bolster my sprits. Kag1982, Crux’s most prolific liberal feminist reader, is usually with me. She says Pope Francis has made clear he “only wants (women) to be housewives and mothers.” Or “brood mares,” as another Crux reader put it. What an image.

But here’s what I’ve learned after two years of Francis-watching. He’s a wily one. Right after his tough words on contraception, Crux reported Sunday that Francis mused, off the cuff, that sometimes the Church is “too chauvinistic.”


And here’s what I’ve learned after just a few months at Crux.

First, nothing works Catholics into a fevered froth faster than stories on sex, gays, and feminists who remain in the Church, refusing all demands to join those swing-from-the-chandelier Protestants.

Second, quite a few Crux readers — including those who view my perspective as misguided, if not disgraceful — display a kindness and a compassion and a willingness to help that’s rarely seen on the dog-eat-dog worldwide Web.

Ellen Marie e-mails to say I’m all wrong, but nonetheless suggests I read “Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving” by Gregory K. Popcak and stop fretting. Contraception becomes moot by menopause, after which, she reports, she and her husband were “blessed with an incredible intimate life at an even higher level.”

Something for us all to look forward to, Ellen Marie!

“God bless you and yours,” she signs off.

“I’m so sorry you feel sad,” Father Gerry writes, suggesting I read “Sex au Naturel: What It Is and Why It’s Good for Your Marriage” by Patrick Coffin and the teachings on this of Pope St. John Paul II. Then I might feel better and happier, he tells me, “with every blessing, Father Gerry.”

Father Gerry, I probably won’t feel better, or happier, either — or change my mind. But I do so appreciate your grace-filled concern as one member of the body of Christ looking out for another.

You sound like a really nice guy.