Latest from The Spokesman-Review
From the Desk of Fr. Doug
What the Nuns’ Story is Really About
I had no intention of writing a Part Two to last week’s article but two things happened that inspired me to do so.
The first was the overwhelming response to that article. Apparently it went viral. Before Tuesday was over I had heard from over 100 people from 20 states,
Victoria, Australia and Liverpool, England. The article touched a nerve, especially among women religious. Their emails and phone calls were most moving. Some
were on the verge of tears, because “the church” (translated, that means a male church authority figure) finally understood and was willing to put it in writing.
It turns out that the nuns want to be appreciated and valued, just like the rest of us. But that is not why they do what they do and have done for so long.
What was most evident was that they frequently described their treatment from clergy in language that reflects abuse. Yes, they feel support and appreciation from lay people. That message was strong. It was the local pastor, the bishop or the Vatican that was portrayed as an abusive spouse. The investigation, the refusal to dialogue, the confidential reports unable to be seen or challenged, the surprise announcement, these are just a couple of things that scream dysfunction and abuse. It is a miracle so many have stayed. It reminded me of a woman who stays in a bad, abusive marriage for the sake of the children. The nuns have stayed for us. They have stayed for the illegal immigrant, the orphan, the prisoner, the young boy abused by the priest, the third grader that forgot her lunch bag, the adult that could not read, the lad that scraped his knee, the refugee that needed help with documents, the young woman who needed a midwife, the littlest among us and the rich and powerful.
Many lay people shared stories with me of their struggle to remain Catholic. “Our church’s priorities are in the wrong place”. “Stop with the attack on the nuns and stop with the narrow-minded focus on orthodoxy.” “Jesus did not give his followers a litmus test and neither should the Vatican.” More than one layperson said that the largest religious denomination in the United States after Catholicism is ex-Catholics. When will the Vatican address the why of that? Does the Vatican really think people have left because our church is not orthodox enough?
Catholics have left the faith in droves for a variety of reasons. In Europe only 3% go to Sunday Mass. When will the Vatican get serious about this?
A small number of priests also contacted me. Most said I was courageous (I am not) and if I needed help, three canon lawyers volunteered their services. I told them that would not be necessary. But what a sad commentary that is on the state of the episcopacy in the U.S. Priests live in fear of reprisals simply for naming the obvious.
Better check those readings from Pentecost Sunday again. Twice the disciples are gathered in fear and twice the Spirit comes upon them to help them get over it.
Actually, someone from the diocese did call to set up a date to meet with me about beginning the Rooted in Faith capital campaign. Although we are losing part of our parish and have no accurate data base, we meet next week.
For many the real issue is: The ‘church as institution’ is itself the problem. This oppressive structure must go. A new one must take its place. The lust for power and control hinders the Gospel. Simply put, a church continues the work of Jesus. Nuns do that.
The Vatican sorely lacks. Our beliefs and the institution are not the same thing.
Here’s a point that both lay and religious made. Our clergy must speak out. We need their voices, the only ones some people have. Some saw the coincidence of my article and Pentecost Sunday and prayed that the many tongues of pastors and vicars would not remain silent. That would be awesome!
A second point I wanted to share was the Plain Dealer article that quoted me. It was slightly out of context. As I recall, the reporter asked me if I thought this attack on the nuns would cause people to leave the church. I replied, “People have already left the church”. In the article it sounded like people left because of the nuns, when in reality, Catholics have left long before there was a nungate. (See above)
There were a couple of funny conversations I had with some nuns from California. One said, “this may be the issue that breaks open the old boys network…imagine: "75 year old nuns divorce 88 year old Cardinals." What headlines!”
My favorite was the comment by a priest from Yale. He said that if I got sacked here, there was an opening at the Vatican for a butler and I would be the perfect choice.
(S-R archives photo)
President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office are up on Wednesday. Prepare for more reports like the one above from the national media.
Because of that milestone, The Spokesman-Review is collecting comments from readers on what they think of his presidency so far: Specifically, whether you’ve changed your mind about him, and why or why not?
Keep it clean and under 100 words, and we’ll print the best responses in Wednesday’s paper, and have even more available on line.
Spin Control readers can contribute just be clicking on comment.
For the newspaper version, we’ll need your name or your e-mail address.
Good morning, Netizens…
For the better part of the last three days I have been engaged in what some of my peers might call the eternal trial by fire, as a server hard drive over which I am responsible failed after 3 years, six months and change. What this implies is that for the last 72 hours I have been largely working 16-18 hours per day refitting a new hard drive and performing a restoration process which, fortunately, worked as planned.
There are a lot of people who are attempting to sell backup solutions for computer users, and over the years, I have always stuck with the free solution that has worked so well for everything I do, the Unix “tar” program. As always, the backups it creates worked just fine, and thus for the future, my reputation is secure. (huge sigh of relief) In some cases, it can take days to write a decent tar backup script, but once you have it down pat, you can sleep nights.
Unfortunately, that has left me somewhat distracted from the business of tending the Community Comment, but as of last night I was able to sleep beneath the bar in the Virtual Ballroom, my mind secure and my heart once more beating its normal rhythm. There is nothing like watching a hard disk shred itself to setting your poor heart to pitter-patting like a sparrow wearing tennis shoes on steroids.
Unfortunately, the beautiful warm weather that I occasionally admired out the window while thus engaged in my real day job is going, going gone! Instead we will be seeing possible showers, perhaps even a thunderstorm, and much, much cooler.
I guess I’ll put away the Sea-N-Ski lotion for another few weeks.
Good afternoon, everyone…
Since we are in the process of a “ramble” to Ione and beyond, I regret I will have little to say this afternoon except here is your Wild Card for today. Use it with care…
Good morning, Netizens…
good news week,
Someone’s dropped a bomb somewhere,
And blackening the sky,
It’s good news week,
Someones found a way to give,
The rotting dead a will to live,
Go on and never die.
Have you heard the news?
What did it say?
Who’s won that race?
What’s the weather like today?
(Original Lyrics by Hedgehoppers Anonymous in 1965)
Gaza medical officials say about 850 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip in the 16 days since Israel’s military offensive began. Israeli sources have unofficially stated that they will continue the slaughter until there are no more Palestinians left to launch rockets in their direction. That or until someone bombs Iran, in which case all deals for humanity may be off, but perhaps not.
The Golden Globes awards will take off tonight at 5:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, covered by NBC and MS-NBC in sumptuous detail. I guess that beats watching the NFL Playoffs, depending upon which golden globes attracts one’s interests, either prurient or otherwise. Do you have prurient interests? Nah, I didn’t think so. If you’ve seen one set of Golden Globes, you’ve seen them all, haven’t you?
Speaking in dire tones of the potential closure of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Seattle Times has posted an article http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008614615_pisale11.html that bears close scrutiny because it states, in part, “Don’t count on bloggers or talk radio to fill the gap”, said former state Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge, another committee leader: “They mostly talk about what’s in the newspapers.” I would hope the people in this Blog talk about everything including some things not in the paper.
It’s 6:38 in the morning. What’s the weather like today? I don’t know. (Dave opens his window overlooking the Virtual Ballroom entrance) It’s dark. It’s still very dark outside. Since I cannot see the stars or moon, I think it is cloudy. That’s about as good a weather forecast as you get from the talking heads on television who, it seems, never look at the skies anymore, especially on weekends.