I sometimes think that modern organized religion is more defined by who is kept out than who is allowed in. Is there a particular sort of Heaven or Hell that gets described? Are there particular sorts of people who will never trouble you again? I’m sure it shows my intellectual bias that my idea of a good afterlife is a space where things are explained, understood, restored and reconciled.
But the idea of reconciliation that hinges on agreeing to be bigotted together bothers me — so the bridge across the Tiber offered by Pope Benedict to the disaffected Anglicans seems loathsome in some ways and hypocritical in others. Last night I was talking with a colleague about the theological kludge that was going to allow married Anglican priests to become married Catholic ones — despite the continued ban on homegrown married Catholics in the priesthood, and I was surprised to realize that my colleague was among those who would have wanted a vocation, if only the sacraments of marriage and ordination were not mutually exclusive.
For a more elaborate discussion of religion and ethics in ordinary discourse, see this essay by Randy Cohen, the ethicist at the NY Times.