The Jesuit Father Thomas J. Reese's claim to fame is the frequency with which he is quoted in news stories about the Catholic Church.
He seems to be in every journalist's Rolodex. For reporters with newspapers like the Washington Post and The New York Times, he is the go-to guy for the adversarial quote,perhaps in nuanced disagreement with a statement by the Vatican; perhaps putting a different spin on it and always a liberal spin. That Sunday at St. Ignatius, he preached on the famous passage from the Epistle to the Ephesians, in which St. Paul says, "Husbands love your wives; wives obey your husbands." I was immediately curious. How would America's well-known apostle of liberal Catholicism handle that? Fr. Reese's main point was that "the historical context was different then." In the apostolic age, husbands needed to be told to love their wives because that understanding of conjugal love had not yet penetrated the Greco-Roman culture.
"Radical equality" between the sexes came in with Christianity.At the time, "it was the men who would have been upset" by the Pauline injunction, "not the women." He continued in that vein, and probably there was a good deal of truth to what he said. I don't recall that he said anything about wives obeying their husbands. "People sometimes leave the Church for the wrong reasons,"
Fr. Reese added. "Taking a single passage and interpreting it in a fundamentalist way can get us into trouble." Then, in what was almost a throwaway line, he referred to "the stupid passage" in St. Paul's epistle.I wasn't sure I had heard that right — "stupid passage," did he say? I decided to check with him after Mass. Fr. Reese was already receiving visitors at the sacristy door when I got there, and I resolved to keep it non-confrontational. I said something innocuous about the best passages of Scripture being ones that challenge the conventional wisdom of the day.
That was exactly what St. Paul was doing, he replied.
Link (here) to the full blistering critique in an article entitled, FR. THOMAS REESE IN SAN FRANCISCO The Heretical Mind Finds a Home by Tom Bethell at New Oxford Review, of a homily by Fr. Thomas Reece, S.J. at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in San Francisco, California.