Last lines of stories often serve as a way for the reporter to . . . help readers know how to think about a subject. With that in mind, GetReligion offers the last words in this round of stories about the ouster of Fr. Thomas Reese as editor of the Jesuit weekly America:
After the election of Pope Benedict XVI, America ran an editorial that said: “A church that cannot openly discuss issues is a church retreating into an intellectual ghetto.”
“I know I am speaking for all the editors in saying that we are sorry to see Tom go,” said [Drew] Christiansen [Reese's assistant and successor] in the May 6 release. “Fr. Reese greatly improved the magazine, adding news coverage, color and the Web edition. . . . By inviting articles that covered different sides of disputed issues, Fr. Reese helped make America a forum for intelligent discussion of questions facing the church and the country today.”
Reuters (penultimate line):
“By some estimates, over 100 theologians have been silenced or reprimanded by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” he wrote. “A church that cannot openly discuss issues is a church retreating into an intellectual ghetto.”
Reese’s editorials often took a left-leaning position. They became particularly sharp during the interregnum after the death of Pope John Paul II, when he called for a new pope who would allow more open debate.
[Pedro] Arrupe [former leader of the order], who died in 1991, had pushed for the church to move for a more socially just world while remaining faithful to papal authority. But during his tenure, some Jesuits especially in the United States and the Netherlands challenged Vatican pronouncements on birth control, priestly celibacy and the ban on women priests.